Interview with Marius Stračkaitis

President of the CNUE, and

President of the Lithuanian Chamber of Notaries



1.- The Chamber of Notaries of Lithuania joined the CNUE in 2004, after Lithuania became a full member of the European Union. With what means do you intend to develop your work in the CNUE?

The presidency of the CNUE, which I took over on 11 January 2024 from my esteemed colleague, the German notary Dr. Peter Stelmaszczyk, is a huge responsibility both for the Lithuanian notariat and for our country, which joined the European Union in 2004. The past 20 years in the European family, the path of notarial reforms and professional development have all led us to be ready to take up the challenge of representing the 50,000 notaries of the European Union and the one fifth of a million notarial staff.


2.- What are the objectives or the program of your work for this year 2024?

I have identified three priorities for the CNUE presidency for the year 2024. The first and most important priority of my Presidency is the strengthening of the notarial profession. We often discuss the new competences given to notaries in particular countries. Increasingly, notaries are being entrusted with the certification of uncontested divorce, in some countries they can also certify marriages, and the competence of Apostille certification of documents is being transferred to notaries. This shows that state values the quality, reliability, speed and efficiency of notaries' work. My aim is therefore to help those notariats which have a limited number of functions and are able and willing to expand their competence to gain more functions. Those notariats that have sufficient functions we need to provide help to maintain those functions.

The second priority of the Presidency is the digitisation of notarial services. New technologies open up new opportunities for both clients and notaries. The possibility to perform notarial acts remotely increases the accessibility of notarial services. Information technology and the use of artificial intelligence can facilitate the work of notaries. As I have repeatedly said, despite the rapid development of digital technologies and the digitisation of processes, it is important that the role of the notary, as a professional who provides legal certainty, is preserved.

Another priority is assistance to Ukraine. We must not get tired of supporting Ukraine, both in reforming and digitising the notariat and in helping those notaries and their families who have been affected by the war.

Don't you think that employees should be expressly contemplated as collaborators of the notary for the efficient performance of his function?

I started working in the notariat more than twenty-five years ago, after finishing my studies at Vilnius University. I worked as a notary's assistant for three years, and then as an assessor (candidate notary) for another four years. So, even before I became a notary, I had learned and studied everything I could about the notary’s work. Therefore, I am well aware of the importance of the staff of notarial office and the contribution of their qualification and competence to the notary's prompt, high-quality and professional notarial acts. The staff of notary offices bear a great deal of responsibility not only for the preparation of documents for a notarial transaction, but also for communication with clients and helping them in a cultured manner. Therefore, I consider the employees of notary offices (and my colleagues will also agree with this) as members of one notarial family.


3.- The European institutions are adopting important dossiers that will have an impact on the activity of notaries: creation of a European Digital Identity Portfolio, Artificial Intelligence Law, expansion and improvement of the use of digital tools and processes in law. What is the meaning for European citizens and for notaries in Europe of all these projects? In your opinion, is it positive?

Digital tools can help citizens get the services they need faster and more efficiently. At the same time, digitisation poses a number of challenges, from digital skills of citizens to new forms of illegal activities. Therefore, despite the rapid development of digital technologies and the digitisation of processes, it is important to preserve the role of the notary as a professional who provides legal certainty.

The same principle of ensuring legal certainty should apply to artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is one of the greatest challenges of our time, but also one of the greatest opportunities. The development of the use of AI is of great importance for European notariats, and the Council of the Notariats of European Union is already monitoring and encouraging notaries to discuss and explore possibilities of AI in notarial work. Thoughtfully integrated AI could help both notaries and employees to deal with legal matters, as well as notaries' clients, by introducing chatbots that could facilitate the communication before notarial acts.


4.- Throughout 2022 and 2023, the CNUE has been committed to Ukrainian citizens and notaries. During your mandate, will you continue to support Ukraine?

Indeed, assistance to Ukrainian notaries is one of the priorities of the Lithuanian Presidency of the CNUE. At the beginning of this year we have already succeeded in implementing the decision made by the CNUE to support to the charity fund "Save Ukrainian Notaries and their Families" established by the Ukrainian Chamber of Notaries. This sum of more than 90,000 euros will be distributed by the Ukrainian Chamber of Notaries to notaries who have suffered from Russian aggression. In September, as a highlight of the CNUE Presidency, we are organising a major conference on assistance to Ukraine in Vilnius, where we will talk about the search for ways to further help to Ukrainian notaries, the reforms of the Ukrainian notariat, and the insights of the notariats of the European Union Member States on these issues. I personally feel obliged to help my colleagues in Ukraine and I am in direct contact with the President of the Ukrainian Chamber of Notaries Volodymyr Marchenko. My first visit to Kyiv was in 2014, when we could still see the remnants of the barricades on Independence Square (Maidan). Since then, I have visited Ukraine several times, both as a member of the Commission for International Notarial Cooperation of the International Union of Latin Notaries (UINL) and as President of the Lithuanian Chamber of Notaries. We managed to organise several successful events - conferences, seminars, where we shared good practices of notarial reforms. I hope that the knowledge we have passed on helps our Ukrainian colleagues to do their duty in a difficult time of war. I can say with confidence that our Ukrainian colleagues are as unwavering as the whole of Ukraine.


5.- The Latin-Germanic notarial system is the most widespread in the current European Union. But this system does not exist neither in the United Kingdom and Ireland nor in the Scandinavian Countries. Is this a great problem at the time of presenting the Notarial Function before the Authorities of Brussels?

The essence of the CNUE is to unite and represent the interests of European notaries who have opted for the principles of Latin notariat. As a member of the European Union, the influence of the United Kingdom as a politically and economically strong country, and the influence of the Anglo-Saxon legal system, was undoubtedly felt in Brussels. But then Brexit happened. We can now focus not on theoretical or practical disputes about which legal system should prevail, but on strenghtening of the Latin notariat and representing its interests.

The situation of notariats is different in each EU country, but we are all united by a common goal: a strong and stable notarial profession. Strengthening the notariat is my first and foremost priority for the Lithuanian Notarial Presidency. 2024 is a year of important changes in the structures of the European Union, but I hope that European notaries will represent their interests in a united and solidary manner.


6.- Would the unification of the notarial systems in Europe be convenient, is it possible, is it possible and desirable among the Latin-Germanic type notaries?

There have been various hypothetical discussions on whether the legal systems of different EU countries, such as civil codes, should be merged or unified. These remain theoretical considerations. I do not think that the ideas of unifying legal systems in Europe are relevant at the moment. My concern as President of the CNUE is the strengthening of the Latin notarial profession and the sharing of best practices. The Lithuanian notariat is based on the Latin-Germanic tradition, and 30 years of reforms have resulted in the notariat being the profession with the highest public trust, to which the state is delegating more and more powers. Other countries with modern Latin notariats have also made significant achievements. We want to share these success stories with our European colleagues.


7.- In relation to Lithuania, what is the current situation of the Lithuanian notary's office? What are its aspirations and desires?

In 2022, the Lithuanian notariat celebrated the 30th anniversary of the reform that transformed the Soviet notarial system into a Latin notariat. Over three decades, the notarial profession in Lithuania has become a stable, reliable and important part of the legal system. The law assigns many competences to Lithuanian notaries, including a key role in the areas of inheritance, mortgages and pledges, transfer of real estate and financial transparency, and prevention of money laundering. Trusting in the professionalism of notaries, the State has continuously delegated additional competences to Lithuanian notaries, easing the burden on the courts. We can say that notaries act as a preventive judges. For example, since 2012, the functions of a mortgage judge have been transferred to notaries, and since the beginning of 2023, notaries have acquired the right to approve the uncontested divorce if the spouses do not have minor children. In addition, notaries have been given the right to deal with family property issues, ensuring the rights of minors. The public trusts notaries the most among all legal professions, as shown by sociological surveys carried out since 2005 at the request of the Lithuanian Chamber of Notaries. Other important processes are taking place in the Lithuanian notariat. As of July 2021, Lithuanian notaries can perform remote notarial acts. Currently, 4-5 thousand notarial acts are performed every month. Notaries and their clients use the electronic system eNotaras, which has been created at the initiative and expense of the Lithuanian Chamber of Notaries. All notarial acts can be performed remotely, except for the confirmation of a will, the acceptance of a will for safekeeping, and the confirmation of the fact that a person is alive and in a certain place. eNotaras is the result of 12 years of work to create additional access and convenience for clients and the notary, while at the same time ensuring that the notary maintains control of legality and the supremacy of law. The remote authentication of the client's identity also uses technological solutions based on artificial intelligence, but the final decision is taken by the notary. We are currently closely following the debate on the use of artificial intelligence for the benefit of notaries. So, to summarize the answer, I will say: The goals of the Lithuanian notariat are to further increase the professionalism and qualification of notaries, to strengthen confidence in our profession, and to use new technologies while keeping control of the legal process in the hands of notaries. 


8.- Finally, what is your impression or prognosis about the future of the Notary's office in Europe?

The CNUE represents 50,000 notaries and a fifth of a million of their staff from 22 Member States and 8 observer members. Although they are all united by the principle of the Latin notariat, there is a great diversity. Each country has its own laws, its own legal traditions, its own political, economic and social issues. Therefore, when we talk to our colleagues at the CNUE, we see a complex picture. In some countries, notaries have the willingness to acquire new functions and competences. In others, the aim is to it is to maintain them. Thus, all notaries would give a different meaning to the term 'strengthening the notarial profession'. Another aspect is that technological progress and the emerging artificial intelligence solutions present the same challenges for all. We can already say that information technologies open unique working opportunities for notaries, but it is necessary to understand that the automatisation of data registers, the inclusion of smart systems and artificial intelligence applications cannot replace the notary, nor the notary's staff, but facilitate their work. Only a highly qualified lawyer, such as a notary, will be able to understand a person's will, to identify his/her needs and to prevent fraud, in other words, to be a guardian of legality in civil relations. I firmly believe that this is one of the most important aspirations of any European notariat.