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The Competition Authority recommends opening notary fees to price competition

The Competition Authority recommends setting notary fees not as fixed rates but as an upper threshold (limit prices), notaries then being able to use price lists below that limit and if necessary then to agree more favourable prices with a client. With this the consumer gets the opportunity to choose between notaries offering the same operations for different prices. As a result of the change, competition will drive the prices lower in certifying high-price real estate transactions and other similar operations, the notary fee rates of which currently exceed the cost-based level. Additionally, the price competition will ensure a better transparency upon choosing a notary.

 Notary fees are set out in the law, but the revenue from those fees is not going into the public revenue, instead it goes into covering the costs of notaries and into their profits. According to an analysis, the average Estonian notary earns three times, the notary with the highest income even fifteen times the salary of a state judge. The only reason why notaries are able to earn that much is because the state has no way to verify the cost basis of the notary fees. This would not be possible in free market conditions. With price competition, the client would get the opportunity to receive price quotes from different notaries. Currently, notaries earn large income from certifying large real estate transactions but they are not allowed to take notary fees below the rates set in the law.

The setting of limit prices will not deteriorate the access to notary operations in any way. No price competition will occur in the field of socially affordable operations and those will continue to be performed at the upper limit price. In its analysis sent to the Ministry of Justice and the Chamber of Notaries, the Competition Authority presented the reasons why the amendment would not damage the sustainability or independence of the activities of notaries, the quality of their operations, nor accessibility for people with lower income.

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