Join  |  Login  |   Cart    

Notary Rotary
Signing "Under Protest" (No, not a Notarial Protest)
Notary Discussion History
Signing "Under Protest" (No, not a Notarial Protest)
Go Back to October, 2009 Index

Posted by Marian_in_CA on 10/27/09 9:25pm
Msg #308928

Signing "Under Protest" (No, not a Notarial Protest)

If somebody signs a document, but writes "under protest" underneath it, what exactly does that mean? I gather it means that the signer is signing out of duress of some kind and does not actually agree with everything they're subscribing. Right?

Does it have any legal standing?

I get that most of us aren't lawyers here... but I've been wondering about it. I was actually asked to notarize a letter today written by a witness who swore under oath that a person signed a certain release form under duress and and was essentially forced to sign it. They explained the situation to me, and I can totally see why the person may have felt forced. I don't really know... but if I were in that situation, I can't say that I'd have acted any differently.

The individual wrote "Under Protest" under his signature, and the witness' letter, which I was notarizing, was just a statement backing that up. I was not asked to notarize the first signature.

But I got to wondering... if I WERE asked.... would I have notarized it?

If the person is openly signing something, yet adds "under protest" to it... he's still signing, right? Or is he openly negating his signature, and therefore not signing it? Hmmmmm.

Reply by Linda_H/FL on 10/27/09 9:34pm
Msg #308930

Quick google answer:

"The making of a payment or the doing of an act under an obligation while reserving the right to object to the obligation at a later date."

Reply by Marian_in_CA on 10/27/09 9:51pm
Msg #308935

Thanks... it does seem funny, though, that someone would ACCEPT a document like that, right? O mean, if you accept a document signed under protest, you're essentially accepting the fact that they don't agree with what they just signed... which defeats the purpose of signing.

I'm in one of those thinking modes tonight, the kind where if you think too hard your head hurts because you keep going in circles.

Reply by John Schenk on 10/27/09 10:59pm
Msg #308939

Under Protest...IMMEDIATE CALL...

I'd be on the phone as soon as he said he was going to do that. When you swore him, was that under protest too? If so, what wasn't invalid?

I would have gotten hold of the powers that be, immediately when that situation presented itself, and if I couldn't have gotten hold of them, I would have left as this isn't a loan that will close.

Just my lay opinion. Hope you get your print and travel fee.


Reply by John Schenk on 10/27/09 11:13pm
Msg #308942

Re: Under Protest...means it's not a voluntary act...

of your own free will without Duress, compulsion, or coercian? Which one was it? How binding can that be? LOL

If it was just an acknowledgment...that might work. Any doc you swore him to would be worthless, IMO, if he wrote "under protest."

Really crappy situation for you, and you should look to the deal you have with the one that hired you as to what their fees are for a loan that doesn't sign, if you didn't confirm with them that this happened before finishing the closing. JMO and LAY OPINION, of course as always.


Reply by Marian_in_CA on 10/28/09 12:47am
Msg #308949

Two different people here....

I did NOT nor was I asked to notarize the signature under protest. In my case, I was asked to notarize/put under oath another party who witnessed the original signature... I hope that makes sense.

John Doe signed this waiver under protest. Jane Doe wrote a statement describing that this individuals was, in fact, under duress when he signed it. But, it doesn't really matter what the statement said... I was just notarizing her signature on a letter.

They just told me about the situation was all... I did not witness the first signature.

In this case, it was not a loan signing. It was a general notary appointment, and I'm fine with how it went.

I was really more intrigued by the idea of signing under protest... and wonder if it actually has any legal ramifications or holds up in legal process.

Reply by John Schenk on 10/27/09 11:21pm
Msg #308944

Maybe this was just a rhetorical question?

I figured you had a reason for posting it, but maybe it was just rhetorical? Doesn't change my responses either way.


Reply by Patricia/VT on 10/28/09 12:38am
Msg #308948

Re: Maybe this was just a rhetorical question?

It is my understanding that if a notary believes a signer to be incompetent or signing under duress or is being coerced, the notary must decline to notarize the document.

Reply by JanetK_CA on 10/28/09 3:30am
Msg #308951

Re: Maybe this was just a rhetorical question? I assumed so.

That's probably a matter of state law, but it's a very interesting question. I'd also be interested in hearing the thoughts of the attorneys here on this board. Good question, Marian!

Reply by Stamper_WI on 10/28/09 5:13am
Msg #308953

Re: Maybe this was just a rhetorical question? I assumed so.

It may be under court order that the person sign. For example , I was sent to jail to get a woman's signiture on a deed. She was in jail for contempt of court in a divorce proceeding and charges of theft for emptying the house out and hiding all their belongings. She didn't sign though. Last I saw of her , she was being dragged down the hall between 2 guards hollering and screaming.

Reply by PAW on 10/28/09 7:20am
Msg #308956

My understanding is that writing "Under Protest" is really meaningless as it isn't needed to ensure a persons right to protest a transaction. "Florida law does not require a taxpayer to pay under protest in order to preserve the right to challenge a remittance in a postpayment refund action." (cite: Osceola v. Florida Dept. of Revenue, 893 F. 2d 1231, 1233 (CA11 1990); Rendon v. State of Fla., 930 F. Supp. 601 (SD Fla. 1996); McKesson, supra, at 24, n. 4) Granted, this is in regards to a tax payment, but certainly, imo, may be cited as a precedent for any transaction.

Reply by BobbiCT on 10/28/09 7:51am
Msg #308958

Signing "Under Protest" depends ...

Ask yourself this simple question: Under my state laws, can I perform a notarization for someone who has identified himself while the spouse threatens the signer "sign here or else ..."? Same question for an elderly man in a nursing home being told to "sign this Power of Attorney now" by the adult son named in the PoA. (One of the reasons you have all family members leave the room while you discuss the document with the person in the hospital bed.)

Not legal opinion, just my personal opinion: In CT "signed uner protest" may or may not work. Many documents require signers to sign "as their free act and deed," although not stated within the acknowledgment text this is a requirement for the notary (who is notarizing that the signer did so as his/her "free act and deed"Wink and the signer. For example, if someone came to me asking me to take an acknowledgment or jurat but wrote "under protest" under his/her signature or told me "I am signing under protest", I would NOT act as the notary. One good reason to hold off starting to fill in that notarization block until after the signer has looked at the document and actually signed.

I see no issue in notarizing a prepared Affidavit for someone who swears they saw another person forced to sign a specific document - my guess is the Affidavit will be part of a lawsuit.

Reply by TRG_wy on 10/28/09 8:08am
Msg #308959

Too many are reading more into this than was posted.
It need not and was not implied by the post that it was relating to a loan or closing.

The Google defination posted is exactly correct. Back in the '70's I was advised (by an attorney) to add that verbage to a payment that was due but incorrect due to no falt or action on my part. More or less it was an acknowledgement of the request but also a statement by me that I reserve the right to further protest the bill (in my case) without giving in. In the good ol days before credit card laws favored the cardholder, an incorrect or fraud posted was a good example cited for doing this.

I haven't seen this used in years.

Reply by Linda_H/FL on 10/28/09 8:10am
Msg #308960

I must be reading this wrong or reading this differently

Maybe I'm missing something, but "Under Duress" and "Under Protest" are two different things...

Under Duress, the signer is being forced to sign, they don't want to sign, they don't know what they're signing or why, but they'd better sign "or else"'.....and I'd walk as a notary too

Under Protest - they ARE signing of their own free will, they know what they're signing, they're not being forced to sign, but they do not agree with the underlying reason for the document and reserve the right to object to it at a later date. No duress or coercion, and as a notary that's all we're concerned about - they're positively identified and they are signing of their own free will -

Like I said -maybe I'm missing something here.

Reply by TRG_wy on 10/28/09 8:39am
Msg #308961

Re: I must be reading this wrong or reading this differently

You put it in terms that should be easy to understand. (I think my post failed to do that - too early and not enough coffee but too much snow outside). Smile

Reply by Linda_H/FL on 10/28/09 9:43am
Msg #308966

Re: I must be reading this wrong or reading this differently

<<whimper>> please don't say "snow"....that's a 4-letter word!!...brrr.....LOL

Reply by Marian_in_CA on 10/28/09 11:42am
Msg #308974

Re: I must be reading this wrong or reading this differently

Thanks, Linda... what you say makes sense.

In my case, the affidavit of the witness to the signature stated that the person was under duress when he signed it. Obviously, for privacy issues I can't really give all the details... but that's what her affidavit said.

The original signature simply said, "Under protest" under the signature, with his initials next to that. It seems like a simple way saying, "I'm signing this because you have something I need but I do not agree with all of your terms."

So, to me... that seems odd that somebody would actually accept a signature under protest... since that would in, essence, be a change in the terms of the document, right?

In this case the individual/company requiring the signature accepted it signed under protest, which to me says that they knew this individual did not really agree to the waiver or portions of the waiver after all. Therefore, if they knew this, and they accepted it as such... they are agreeing to the change in terms... which, seems kind of dumb since the disputed terms are not specified... which would put the entire document at risk.

It seems a company that was serious about getting that waiver would not actually accept a document signed in that manner. Maybe that's just me trying to use common sense or something... but if I wanted a signature from someone and they said 'Under Protest' like that, I'd say, 'Well, then... no deal. We either negotiate the terms to everyone's satisfaction and get a full, willing signature or nothing happens."

Reply by Eileen McRorey on 10/28/09 11:47am
Msg #308977

Re: I have done this in my job

When I was a cityclerk, I would have people who where upset about their taxes and I would notarize letters that were signed under protest about payment. Usually, after they found out about having to obtain an attorney and go to circuit court about paying or not paying their taxes, they withdrew their protest letter.

Reply by PAW on 10/28/09 12:07pm
Msg #308978

Don't try to analyze, just notarize.

As a disinterested third party, you aren't concerned with the content of the document, only that it is complete. What it says is the responsibility of the signer. Who signed it is the responsibility of the notary.

Reply by Jim/AL on 10/28/09 1:14pm
Msg #308987

Ditto and Amen PAW. n/m

Find a Notary  Notary Supplies  Terms  Privacy Statement  Help/FAQ  About  Contact Us  Archive  NRI Insurance Services
Notary Rotary® is a trademark of Notary Rotary, Inc. Copyright © 2002-2013, Notary Rotary, Inc.  All rights reserved.
500 New York Ave, Des Moines, IA 50313.