Supreme Court: Notary Public appointed in special circumstances for non-adjoining counties Cork and Dublin

In an application before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Denham has appointed a Notary Public for both County Cork and County Dublin, and all adjoining counties thereto. In the special circumstances regarding the appointment of a Notary Public to non-adjoining counties, Chief Justice Denham took into consideration several special factors, including the fact that the solicitor was actively practising in both Cork and Dublin.

Richard Hammond brought forward a petition requesting to be appointed a Notary Public for the City and County Cork, together with the adjoining counties; and also requesting to be appointed a Notary Public for Dublin, together with the adjoining counties.

The Faculty of Notaries Public in Ireland accepted without equivocation the personal fitness of Mr Hammond to be appointed Notary Public with regards to his place of business in Mallow, County Cork, being Cork City and County and the contiguous counties of Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford.

The sole issue of concern to the Faculty of Notaries Public in Ireland, and the sole issue on the application before the Supreme Court, was that Mr Hammond sought to be appointed also as a Notary Public for the City and County of Dublin – discontiguous to Cork, and therefore outside the general rule regarding such applications.

Previous Rulings

Chief Justice Denham distinguished Mr Hammond’s application from the matter of John Hussey on the 18th July 2011, which related to an application by Mr Hussey to be appointed a Notary Public for the entire of the State of Ireland.

Mr Hussey was a Notary Public for Cork and the adjoining counties of Waterford, Kerry, Tipperary and Limerick; and argued that the tradition of the Chief Justice appointing Notaries Public for a specific limited area was out of date, and out of keeping with modern needs and requirements.

Mr Hussey submitted that he was entitled to practise as a solicitor throughout the State, and questioned why he could not practise as a Notary Public throughout the State.

In the absence of grounding legislation, Mr Hussey’s application was refused.

Distinguishing Mr Hammond’s application, Chief Justice Denham stated that Mr Hussey did not have legal practice in any other particular county, or indeed specifically in all counties; nor did he advance any specific factual reasons for expanding his Notary Public jurisdiction to other counties.

Chief Justice Denham then turned to consider the successful application of Bill Holohan in 2000.

Similar to the facts of Mr Hammond’s application, Mr. Holohan was practising in both Dublin and Cork with fully functioning public offices in both places, with staff employed by him in each location, and the duality of such offices was recorded in the annual Law Society Law Directory.

Furthermore, Mr Holohan supported the application of Mr Hammond in an affidavit which was deposed on the 30th April 2016, and which concluded by listing the similarities between the application of Mr Holohan and Mr Hammond.


The jurisdiction of the Chief Justice to make appointments of Notaries Public is “rooted in the papal mists of time, with very limited statutory assistance”.

In the absence of any modern legislation addressing the issue of the appointment of Notaries Public, Chief Justice Denham referred to various legislation for assistance on the matter, namely: The Notaries Public Act 1821; s. 19 of the Matrimonial Causes in Marriage Law (Ireland) Amendment Act 1870; s. 19(3) Courts of Justice Act 1924; and s. 10(1)(b) of the Courts (Supplemental Provisions) Act 1961, which re-enacted s. 19(2) of the Courts of Justice Act 1924.

Chief Justice Denham emphasised that each application had to be considered on its own circumstances, and exceptions had been made to general rules. Additionally, when making Rulings on the issue of the appointment of Notaries Public, it has been the practice for a Chief Justice to follow previous decisions, practices, and Rulings.

Chief Justice Denham stated that application of Bill Holohan 2000, was the most relevant precedent.

Accordingly, Denham considered whether this application was similar to that of Mr Holohan, so as to fall within the precedent; or whether there were special circumstances warranting such an appointment.

As a general rule, the appointment of a Notary Public is made to a county and contiguous counties. It is a theme in the jurisprudence that Notaries Public will not be appointed to non-contiguous counties, unless there are special factors such as those identified in the Holohan application.


Chief Justice Denham was satisfied that several special factors could be identified in Mr Hammond’s application:

(i) The Faculty’s acceptance without equivocation, as to the personal fitness of Mr Hammond to be appointed a notary public.

(ii) The accepted evidence of fact offered by Mr Hammond in his affidavits.

(iii) The accepted evidence of fact offered by Bill Holohan in his affidavits.

(iv) The accepted evidence of Mr Hammond that he worked in Dublin for 128 days in 2015, with the remaining days being in Mallow.

(v) Mr Hammond’s significant client base comprised of other solicitors.

(vi) The numerous parallels to be drawn with the Holohan application

In all the circumstances, Denham was satisfied that this application reached the standard set in the Holohan application.

Consequently, Chief Justice Denham appointed Mr Hammond as Notary Public for:

(i) The City and County of Cork, together with adjoining counties Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford, and

(ii) The City of Dublin and the administrative areas of Dun Laoghaire – Rathdown County Council, South Dublin County Council and Fingal County Council, together with adjoining counties Kildare, Meath, and Wicklow

  • by Róise Connolly for Irish Legal News
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