RON: The jurisdiction Problem

Jurisdiction Issues. This bill (AB 199) states “An online notary public physically located in this state may perform an online notarization for a principal singer located in this state, outside this state and outside the United States if the online notary public has no actual knowledge that the act is prohibited in the jurisdiction in which the principal is physically located at the time of the act.”

So, AB 199 imposes an enormous new duty upon notaries to confirm the location of signers and to know the laws of all 50 states in the union and 195 sovereign states on the planet. How would an online notary know if a remote signer is half way around the globe or a half a block down the street? Ever heard of proxification? And remember, the notary signs under penalty of perjury, not the signer. This bill puts an enormous amount of undue liability on notaries and their signers.

William Fritzlen, the supervisory counsel of the U.S. State Department has expressed concern to the uniform law commission that foreign countries may consider remote notarizations to infringe on their sovereignty. Beyond the implications on bilateral relations, the State Department has explained that Switzerland, and countries like it, may prosecute American citizens who obtain a remote notarization while in that foreign country. Furthermore, Iowa and WV have explicitly stated in their code that an individual does not appear personally if the appearance is by video or audio technology, they may also consider remote notarization to be an infringement on their state’s rights and prosecute notaries performing remote notarizations in their state.