Notaries perform a vital function in the commercial and civil life of the country and their role has been recognised since Roman times. In Malta where the profession, and the law regulating it, have followed Continental legislation, a new law regulating the profession only cane fifty years into British domination of the island. Ordinance V of 1855 was not enthusiastically welcomed by the notaries, who objected to many of its provisions. Underlying the new legislation was the process of rationalisation and modernisation in line with the policies of the British administration for the Maltese Islands. This necessitated a more modern regulation of the profession, which protected the professional standing of notaries but, at the same time, ensured the control and discipline so necessary for the proper performance of their duties. The present writing examines, on a comparative basis, this process and the reactions of the notaries themselves together with the antecedents of that law. It further surveys succinctly the standing and circumstances of the notarial archives, of notaries on the smaller island of Gozo, and of those notaries whose warrant to practice emanated from London rather than Valletta.
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