The National Council of Notaries (CNN) is the central body of the profession. It is composed of twenty notaries who are directly elected – with a limit of two consecutive terms – by all practising notaries, elections being held every three years. In the same way the three members of the Board of Auditors are elected. The 20 elected councillors, after their installation, nominate: the President, the Vice President, the Secretary and the Executive Committee.
The tasks of the National Council of Notaries are defined by law as follows:
a) to advise the Department of Justice, if so requested, on provisions relating to the notarial law and issues affecting the profession;
b) to present proposals that it considers appropriate in relation to notaries;
c) to collect and coordinate the proposals of the notarial councils and of notaries themselves;
d) to carry out studies of interest to the profession;
e) to protect the interests of the profession;
f) to develop principles of professional ethics.
To carry out its functions, the Council may establish special committees, with the help also of external persons having particular expertise. A special committee, called the “Permanent Observatory for Ethics”, oversees the uniform implementation throughout Italy of the Code of Conduct, a set of rules of conduct binding on all notaries, drawn up by CNN and published for the first time in 1994. The current text was approved by the National Council of Notaries with resolution no. 2/56 of 5 April 2008.
Beyond the CNN’s writ, instead, are the examination and resolution of specific cases or the application of disciplinary sanctions: this matter is confidential to each District Notarial Council.
As the central body of the profession, the Council is responsible for relations with the State in areas touching the notarial profession; it organises conferences and promotes national conferences for the study of current issues and new legislation; it organises or sponsors refresher courses for practising notaries through the Italian Foundation of Notaries, and adopts appropriate measures that may be suggested by questions or comments on subjects of interest.
The Council does not have jurisdiction over competitions for the appointment of notaries: it must merely provide to the Ministry of Justice a non-binding list of notaries from whom the Ministry can choose the six members who, together with nine magistrates and six university lecturers in law subjects, also appointed by the Ministry, will make up the examination committee. The organisation and management of the competition is strictly reserved to the Ministry.
The District Councils
The distribution of notaries around the country is divided into 92 Districts; the territorial scope of the District by law coincides with the area of jurisdiction of the Court. Notaries having their practice in the District make up the notarial College and for each College there is a notarial Council. Districts in which fewer than fifteen notaries work may be combined with another neighbouring District to form a single Notarial Council.
The Council is located in the city where there is a District Court.
The Notarial Council consists of five, seven, nine or eleven members according to the number of notaries in the College; it is elected by practising notaries in the district and representatives are elected for a term of three years. Each year one-third of the councillors’ three-year terms expire and by the end of February there is a vote to renew the Council. The Council elects from among its members a president, secretary and treasurer.
The Notarial Council has the following functions:
– discipline: it can open proceedings before the Regional Disciplinary Commission, the body responsible for judging in first instance any disciplinary offence by a notary and imposing penalties;
– oversight: it oversees the protection “of the decorum of the profession and the conduct of notaries in the precise observance of their duties”. This supervision is not limited to the power to call to order, but can also be the power of inquiry and active participation in the disciplinary proceedings.