Notaries will be paying more each month to guarantee their activities because a Cartago legal practitioner noticed that the amount had not been raised since 1998.
The fund accumulates money to compensate those who can show they have suffered financial damage due to the actions of a notary.
The Cartago lawyer, himself a notary, is Allan Garro of Garro Law. He brought a case against the Dirección Nacional de Notariado, the legal entity that supervises notaries.
In response to the case in the Tribunal Contentioso Administrativo, the notary agency reached an out-of-court agreement that increases the monthly notary fees.
The new fee structure goes into effect Jan. 1, according to a resolution by the Consejo Superior Notarial. The monthly fee goes from 7,016 colons a month to 12,500 colons. Although the change might seem trivial, the Consejo agreed to index the amount to inflation, something that was supposed to have been done in 1998.
Two economists from Banco Nacional de Costa Rica, which supervises the fund, did a study and admitted that the data of demands against the fund were scarce. Up until now the fund has seen claims only 23 times since 2007, said the study. But many of the amounts and other information were not available, they wrote.
The study suggested the 12,500 colon amount but left the door open for an additional study with more data and indexing the monthly amount to inflation.
The Fundo de Garantía Notarial is specific for each notary. A successful claimant against a notary can obtain funds from the notary’s personal account. When the notary dies, the money that remains in the account goes to heirs. Upon retirement, the notary can collect the amount in the fund.
Garro noted that one reason there were few claims against the fund is because those in the legal profession realized that there was little money there. He estimated that a notary who has been paying the correct monthly amount since 1998 would have about 3 million colons available in the fund. That is just about $5,700 at the current rate of exchange.
The study of the fund showed that there had been claims for as much as 148 million colons. That is far in excess of what was available to pay a third party who was victimized by the improper actions of a notary, the study noted. The amount also is higher than the legal limit of payments from the fund.
Those who have claims against notaries and have not been paid in full can continue seeking compensation in the courts, the study noted. But for lawyers like Garro, who might be representing an aggrieved party, accessing the fund is more convenient.
Since some notaries are key figures in real estate property frauds, significant amounts of money in the fund can provide some compensation for victims.
Notaries are lawyers who have taken more courses and are allowed to validate documents and contracts with power delegated by the state. The Dirección Nacional Notariado is an agency of the Ministerio de Justicia y Paz.