In contrast to authentic form acts, private form acts typically do not have a single set definition. Private form acts usually consist of two parts, the first part is a private document which is not prepared by the notary. The second part is the private form act itself, often referred to as a notarial certificate, which the notary prepares, and which is appended to the private document in such a way that its removal would damage both the private document and the notarial certificate. The notarial certificate records the notary’s intervention and evidences the authentication by the notary of one or more aspects of the document to which it relates. This may include, the validity of the document, its legal status, its legal consequences, its execution and the verification of the identity, capacity or authority of the parties executing the document.
As opposed to the authentic form act, the structure and composition of a private form act is not prescribed by any legislative or other authority (although the authentic form act itself has had considerable influence on the structure of the private form act). However, to be valid a notarial certificate must have the name and status of the notary, the place of the act, the date as well as the notary’s signature and seal.
Another difference between the authentic and private acts is that the evidentiary status of the private act is ultimately determined by the law and courts of the country in which it is produced.
Furthermore, there is no one notarial certificate that is appropriate for all circumstances. Each notarial certificate requires a certificate of specific type and style and must convey meaning.