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Uruguayan Notarial History


Uruguayan Notarial History

1516 Juan Díaz de Solís set foot for the first time on Uruguayan soil, near the port of Montevideo. He took possession of the territory of our country for the Crown of Castilla in the presence of the Notary Public Pedro de Alarcón. A few days later, while coming ashore again on the beaches of the Río Uruguay, Solís and his faithful Notary Public were killed by the indians (the Charrúas).

1680 The Portuguese founded the Nova Colonia do Sacramento, on the shores of the Río de la Plata, almost opposite the location of Buenos Aires at that time. A notarial service or tabelionato , of Portuguese origin, was in functions there. It is known that in 1716 there was a Notary Public of the Royal Treasury and Registration named Mathías da Cruz e Oliveira. In view of the permanent fighting between the Portuguese and the Spaniards for these territories, causing complete lack of stability, the authors prefer to consider this period as part of the Portuguese Notarial Activity in America.

1726 The city of Montevideo was founded by Don Bruno Mauricio de Zabala, a Spanish officer arriving from Buenos Aires. Since no notary public was accompanying him, on the 20th of December of 1729 and in view of the fact that no Public nor Royal Notary is residing in the city, I grant powers to the ordinary, jurisdictional and Holy Order mayors to act for themselves and, in the cases of justice that may appear, in the presence of two witnesses, who shall sign with them. This will be authentic by law as if it is performed in front of a Royal Notary Public There remain many public deeds extended by said mayors and nowadays they call our attention, such as the sales of slaves. For many years after Uruguay obtained its independence the mayors fulfilled these functions in the cities or villages where there was no Notary Public. They ended their activities, in accordance with a resolution of the Higher Court of Justice of the 24th of February of 1874, since it was considered that the list of notary publics registered in the respective register is now long enough.

1739 The first known notary public acting in Uruguay was the Spanish Notary Public Joseph Esquibel who, coming from Buenos Aires, spent almost one month in our country, authorizing deeds. The date of the most ancient known deed, the1st of December of 1739, was taken as the Day of the Uruguayan Notary Public. In this annual ceremony the new colleagues who, in the course of the year, have joined the Notarial Register, are welcomed and those celebrating their twenty-fifth or fiftieth year of admittance in said Registry, receive a very special recognition.

1792 On the 11th of December of said year, in an auction sale, Juan Antonio Magariños acquires the first public and numerus clausus Notarial Office of the city of Montevideo, that was at that time ruled by the regime of Spanish colony, admitting many small official notarial offices dependant of courts (Clerks Offices), of the Government, the Town Council, the Customs, and others of similar administrative character. As from 1729 there also existed an Ecclesiastic Notarial Office. Its first holder was Don Domingo José Alvarez de Salas, and all the holders who followed were laypersons, not clergymen.

1814 End of the Spanish domination. This is the beginning of a long period of Portuguese, Argentinian and Brazilian invasions before completing our difficult process of independence in 1825, notwithstanding subsequent and bloody civil wars of the national political parties, which followed one another up to 1904.

1827 (18th of April).- The first national notarial act was issued two years after the official declaration of national independence. This act abrogated the Town Councils and the Ordinary Mayors who had fulfilled a wide and varied scope of notarial performances. And it was ruled that a notary public is to be appointed in all the cities or villages where the suppressed Town Councils existed or wherever the government shall consider it convenient. Said act maintained the system of numerus clausus and it was the Government who issued the official appointment of the notary publics.

1830 The first Constitution of the Republic of Uruguay is approved and publicly sworn.

1858 (28th of June).- A new notarial act is issued, ordering the creation of the registry of protocol, creating two independent registries to be kept by the same notary public. The first one shall only contain public deeds and will be composed of booklets, which have to be previously paraphed by the controlling authority, and will be bound at the end of each year. Apart from this first registry, the notary public will keep a second registry called Registry of Protocolizations , which shall contain notarial minutes and further documents to be added to this registry by legal, judicial or administrative order, or at the request of the legitimate party in interest, with the purpose of conservation and confirmation of the truthfulness of the date. This duality of notarial registries is still in force. For the first time the national notaries are put under the control of the Higher Court of Justice (today Supreme Court of Justice) and, at present, this is still in force.

1865 - (28th of June).- The Higher Court of Justice declares the abolition of the numerus clausus system for the notary publics of the Republic creating a free practise system for notary publics, where it will be enough to obtain the diploma of Notary Public to practise his profession without any limitation, in all the national territory. In all the rest, the Uruguayan notary public complies with all the characteristics of the Latin Notaries as regards the juridical capacitation, independence, control of legality, public function, authenticity, issuance of public notarial documents of exceptional probatory and executory value and personal and unlimited responsibility for the juridical result of his functions.

1926 (14th of October).- Law Nº 8000.- Elimination of civic restrictions which prevented women from exercising the profession of notary public since, up to that moment, they lacked civil rights. Our first female colleague was Notary Public María Luisa Machado Bonet de Abellá. Nowadays, more than 70% of the notary publics practising this profession are women.


Asociación de Escribanos del Uruguay (Association of Notary Publics of Uruguay)

1875 (1ST of April).- The notary publics establish the first « Colegio of Notary Publics of the Republic of Uruguay», with the intention that this institution would have the same public and obligatory character than the Spanish regime which they knew. The Higher Court of Justice declared not having legal capacity to give this authorization, which required a law. The project for this act was lost in a long procedure that forced the founding colleages to form a civil and private association with the object of the defense of the joint or general interest of the members of this profession. This effort to create a Colegio was many times repeated and continues up to the present days but up to now it has not been more than a strong desire of Notary Publics. Nevertheless, this civil association, direct predecessor of our present Association of Notary Publics of Uruguay, fulfilled an important academic function for the support of a better technical formation for notary publics, getting worried about the social security of its affiliates through the creation of a system of montepíos (contribution) that was in force during that first period and which is the distant antecedent of our present Caja Notarial de Seguridad Social (Notarial Social Security Fund).

1878 (31st of December) Decree-Law Nº 1421 is promulgated on this date and, with amendments and updates, continues to be our Organical Notarial Act. Decree-Law Nº 1421 ratifies the free exercise of notarial activity and its subordination to the maximum body of the Judicial Power, in order to separate this activity from any political connotation.

1897 (13th of July).- This law recognizes the university character of our profession, establishing that the proofs of ability for the professional practise will be at the University of the Republic, demanding a program of mandatory juridical studies, a general final examination that turned out to be extremely difficult since it comprised all the branches of Law existing at that time and the awarding of the degree was also in charge of the University. As from this time, the studies for the career of Notary Public have been amended and enlarged to improve their juridical capacity. Since 1946, the practise for two years in the notarial offices required by this law as a previous condition for the obtention of the university degree, as well as the general final examination described above, were changed for a programme of mandatory technical courses, all of them at the university, dictated by professors who are notary publics, with tests of notarial practice and theoretical-practical examinations.

1901 (17th of May).- The Central University Board establishes the first Chair of Notarial Practise in charge of the honorary professor Notary Public Eduardo Mayada y Vega.

1903 (26th of July).- Creation of the Asociación Notarial de la República Oriental del Uruguay (Notarial Association of the Republic of Uruguay), thus resulting in a division of the national notarial organization.

1907 The two mentioned associations are joined in a new one bearing the name of Asociación de Escribanos del Uruguay (Association of Notaries of Uruguay), which is still active. This is a non-profit civil association, of voluntary membership, with legal personality, constituted by active and retired Notary Publics.

1909 1st of March.- This association receives the recognition of the Executive Power of that time, as having legal capacity, approving its bylaws which were modified in several opportunities. A new amendment, which is subject to the approval of the Ministry of Education and Culture, was approved this year.

Characteristics of our association

Civil Association with extensive union purposes, aimed at the moral and intellectual improvement of the national Notary Publics, that stimulates the development of solidarity principles among its members.

With legal capacity.

It exercises the representation of its members in all its forms.
It has the voluntary membership of more than 95% of the Notary Publics who are professionally active.

It is made up of active, honorary and correspondent members as well as of students.

Its authorities are a General Meeting in which all its members, who must be Notary Publics, may participate and it also has an Executive Committee, an Arbitration Board or Court of Ethics and a Fiscal Commission, all of them with democratically elected members.

As from 1904 it publishes a doctrinal magazine and an informative one called La Pluma ( The Pen ), plus a Bulletin with information regarding the latest regulations.

It has an important digitally organized technical-juridical library.

A System of Technical Enquiries is available to all its members and to requests of the Judicial Power or public institutions in general. These enquiries are answered by Technical Commissions, constituted by Notary Publics who offer their collaboration in an honorary way. When these enquiries are of general interest, they are published in the above-mentioned magazine.

The Meeting of Members decides regarding the variations in the Tariff of Fees which is binding, according to the prescription of the Code of Notarial Ethics.

Every year the Association organizes study workshops in different cities of Uruguay (out of the Capital), as a way of studying subjects of general interest as well as of integration among the different members

The Notarial Congress, made up by delegates from all the Notary Publics, be they affiliated to the Association or not, is dedicated to dealing and solving subjects of matters of institutional importance with interest for Notary Publics.

The legal seat, property of the Association, is at the Edificio del Notariado (Notarial Buiding), at Av. 18 de Julio Nº 1730, 11th Floor, CP 11.200, Montevideo, Uruguay, apart from the seats of the branches in the interior of the country.

Its technical commissions are the following:

Agrarian Law
Civil Law
Commercial Law
Cooperative Law
Informatics and Technological Law
Private International Law
Notarial Law and Notarial Techniques
Public Law
Registry Law
Tax Law
Procedure Notarial Technique

The following work commissions, also collaborating in the activities of the Association, are:

Commission of Support for the New Graduated Notary Publics
Commission of Support for the Retired Notary Publics
Commission for the fixation of Tariff of Fees and Sources of Work
Commission of Legislative Affairs
Commission of University Affairs
Commission of Culture
Commission of Sports and Recreational Activities
Commission of Notarial Meetings
Commission of the Municipality of Montevideo
Commission of Mediation, Conciliation and Arbitration
Commission of Web Page
Commission for the Promotion and Defense of Notary Publics
Commission of the Registry of Civil Status
Commission of International Relations
Commission of Social Security
Commission of Housing Environment

The Association is a founding member of the Agrupación Universitaria del Uruguay (University Society of Uruguay) and of the Unión Internacional del Notariado Latino (International Union of Latin Notaries).

It also carries out further cultural, social and sport activities.