Notary system to be reformed

Sunday, January 27, 2008
Issue 239, Page 1 & 3
Word count: 826
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

A public consultation process for the legal reform of the notary registration system, on the basis of property, business, civil affairs and notary service, was launched yesterday and will run until March 15.

Reform items which have more significant impacts on local people, social life and economic activities were extracted from the four major codes in the scope of notary registration, which are the Property Registration Code, Business Registration Code, Civil Affairs Registration Code and the Notary Code.

A press conference was held at the registry and notary department of the Legal Affairs Bureau (DSAJ) at the Public Administration Building yesterday and was chaired by director Cheong Weng Chon.

Mr Cheong said the revision was a response to the SAR government’s “Public Administration Reform Road Map”, as well as to catch up with the rapidly changing society and increasing public demands.

The proposed changes on the century-old notary registration system are mainly about the regulations of advance sales of “construction-not-yet-finished” property and the deposit practice of property transaction.

Advance sales of unfinished property

According to the proposal, this type of sales activity takes place when construction of property is still under way, and it is one of the most significant channels for developers to raise capital during the construction progress.

However, this kind of transaction may give rise to a problem of different features of apartments in terms of material, design or structure presented to buyers before the transaction and the final product.

The current legal system of real estate transaction only covers sales of completed construction while advance sale employ the regulations stated in the Civil Code.

It means that no concrete legislation is available to regulate the permission of advance sales, and the content, format and registration of transaction contracts.

Due to the increasing prosperity of the real estate market and the stronger financial status of developers, no such disputes have ever occurred regarding sales of unfinished property.

Yet, Mr Cheong said the system needed to be improved in a bid to assure the legal rights of both parties in a property transaction.

The proposal therefore suggested that advance sales could only be allowed after the construction project obtaining an approval from the public works department as well as a temporary building registration at the Real Estate Registry.

As the formation of advance sales contract involved no notary participation, the property could not be filed at the Real Estate Registry. Although transfer of the advance purchased apartment could be done with the approval of the developer, the risk of “multiple sales of one apartment” still exists within the legal system.

Therefore, the DSAJ suggested having notary officers to authenticate contracts which can then be registered officially at the Real Estate Registry.

In addition, it was proposed to add statements regarding the buyer and seller’s rights and obligations in the contracts as well as to include sales brochures, which list property features such as location, environment and materials, to be part of the contract so that publicity information could be restrained by law.

Deposit of property purchase

A certain amount of deposit will usually be paid to the seller after one or two “booking of transaction” agreements are signed ahead of the official signing of the notary certificate.

Buyers will place a small amount of deposit at the real estate agency while a large amount of deposit is placed in the law firms.

However, Mr Cheong said this kind of practice was not being regulated which gives rise to purported landlords cheating buyers out of deposits or receiving multiple deposits by “selling” the property to more than one buyer at the same time.

Considering the limitations of real estate agents in verifying the identity of sellers or landlords, the DSAJ proposed that buyers would only need to pay a fixed proportion of the property price as deposit upon signing the “booking of transaction” agreement at the real estate agency.

Meanwhile, Mr Cheong said sometimes lawyers were also restricted to verify a seller’s identity as not every one of them possessed qualification of a private notary officer. And the “booking of transaction” agreements signed at the law firms were usually not being recognised by public authorities.

These weaknesses led to the proposal of having signatures of notary officers on authenticated agreements as they were entitled to full competency and obligations to verify the identity of sellers and have access to the central notary database, which shows if sellers have received more than one time deposit for a particular property.

Copies of the consultation proposal can be obtained on the first and second floors at the Public Administration Building, the First Public Notary Office at Senado Square, the Islands Public Notary Office in Taipa, the DSAJ website at, or the Macau Law Portal at

The public can file their opinions and suggestions between now and March 15 via email:, fax: 28710445, or mail to Rua do Campo, nº 162, Edifício Administração Pública, 20º andar.


1 Comment »

  1. worktoday24 Said:

    This is informative…


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