A notarized signature creates a hard to rebuttal presumption that the signatory understood the content of the document and willingly signed it

May 7, 2020
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Owner of land that was taken by eminent domain empowered another person to negotiate and sign a compensation agreement with the State. The power of attorney was signed by putting down a fingerprint before a notary public. That attorney signed on behalf of the landowner a compensation agreement with the State, but years later the landowner filed a lawsuit against the State, contending that he did not realize that that the attorney is also empowered to sign the agreement on his behalf.
The Court held that a second claim may not be filed because the power of attorney empowered the attorney to sign on behalf of the landowner the compensation agreement with the State. There is a presumption that anyone who signed a document understood what he signed upon and what he undertook. This presumption is reinforced where the signature was before an authority or a notary public who has approved the signature. Israeli law states that a notary’s approval is sufficient evidence in any legal process without the need for further evidence for the notary’s words, the notary’s actions and the words of others and their actions that they said or did before the notary, all as stated in the notarial approval. Here, although this is not written in the notary’s confirmation that the notary explained to the landowner the contents of the document, it is presumed that the notary acted lawfully and that a notary would not approve a person’s signature and state that the person signed of his own free will, without that person actually expressing a free will to sign the document and understanding of the contents. Thus, the attorney was entitled to sign the compensation agreement with the State and no compensation can be claimed again.