The information portal of the Federal Chamber of Notaries contains a very clear table listing the numbers of members of the chambers of notaries in the federal states as of January 1 for the last 6 years. You will find the information portal here at Notar.de and the statistics page here . It currently goes back to 2017. Older values from 1985 to 2010 can be found here on the website of the Federal Bar Association. The time in between can be found in various issues of a special trade journal (DNotZ, for example. here ).
For Berlin, one can see that the number of notaries rose rapidly and constantly after reunification, until it reached a peak of 2002 professionals in 1.181. Since then it has been steadily declining - in 2010 there were still 938 notaries, the following year the admission requirements were tightened and the notarial specialist examinations were introduced (see my contribution from yesterday). As of January 1, 2015, there were still 772 colleagues and in 2022 there were 651. That's pretty much the same number as in 1990 (there were 655) and about one for every 5.800 inhabitants.
There are no statistics on how many notaries in Berlin, like me, are also specialist lawyers for tenancy and residential property law. I assume there aren't many. It is true that these two competences are closely related. But notarial practice is much more than real estate law. Specialist lawyers for corporate law, family law or inheritance law also find extensive overlaps with notarial topics.
Is that enough or do we have a lack of notaries?
In view of the statistics, one might think that 651 notaries are not many for a city like Berlin, after all there were almost twice as many 20 years ago. But this concern is unfounded. As of January 1, 2022, there were a total of 480 notaries throughout Bavaria, with a population of around 13 million people. That is one for every 27.250 inhabitants. These 480 colleagues certainly have a lot to do, but they also get the job done. Measured by that, we are well taken care of in Berlin. Press releases like “Berlin is running out of notaries” are therefore not really necessary.
The number of notary positions is deliberately limited, since the federal states only appoint as many notaries as are necessary to serve the population. In order to ensure that the admission figures correspond to the demand, the latter is recorded statistically. Every year at the end of January, all notaries have to inform the district court administration how many deed transactions they have carried out in the past year. The statistics distinguish between notarizations and certifications, the latter according to certifications with and without draft preparation by the notary. It is counted as follows:
- a certification (e.g. a purchase contract) counts with the factor 1
- a signature certification with a draft by the notary counts with a factor of 0,5
- Signature certifications without a draft by the notary count with a factor of 0,1
There is a need for the appointment of notaries when the annual average of the notaries’ deed transactions in the district of the Superior Court of Justice, taking into account the notarial positions to be created, over the past four years at least 350 notarial transactions reached or exceeded (see AVNot section I.1. paragraph 2). These are, for example, 200 certifications (with reading), 200 drafts with subsequent certification of signatures and 500 certifications of signatures without a draft = 900 numbers per notary per year. That's quite a lot, especially on average for all notaries in Berlin. If you calculate 651 colleagues with 350 transactions each, that is 227.850 transactions at a factor of 1,0 and correspondingly more at a factor of 0,5 or 0,1. This capacity would have to be permanently exceeded in order to signal the need for further approvals.
However, it is not so much that as a notary you personally reach a performance limit, but rather fills - evenly distributed over the year and assuming a good secretariat - about half of the daily working time, with a very well staffed and extraordinarily competent secretariat even less. The other part of the working time is intended for legal work, since we practice both professions at the same time in Berlin. This also explains why significantly fewer notaries are needed per inhabitant in Bavaria: the colleagues there only work as notaries and are not also lawyers. They can therefore devote their full working time to their certificates.
Back to Berlin. In addition to the calculation of needs based on the annual statistics of notarial transactions, 30 notary positions are advertised in every odd-numbered year in order to maintain an orderly age structure in the notary profession, regardless of demand. However, an existing requirement is taken into account (see AVNot Section I.1. paragraph 3).
This balanced system of needs assessment and demographic compensation ensures that the city is adequately supplied with colleagues without competitive pressure arising from an oversupply, which could endanger notarial neutrality. The high level of the notarial examinations since 2011 also ensures the quality of the content of the work of every notary.