|Assembly Bill 1093 (Jones-Sawyer), which would authorize California notaries to perform remote online notarization (RON) in California, remains a work in progress and the legislation’s future remains uncertain. The CLTA has been obtaining input from its members and is working with the Legislature to resolve concerns that the bill would have a detrimental impact on Californians and the state’s real estate industry, primarily stemming from the legislation’s prohibition on interstate recognition of RON conducted outside California under certain circumstances.|
Assembly Bill 1093 was most recently amended on June 13th to require, commencing in 2025, that a principal located in California use only a California notary when opting for RON. To implement this requirement, the bill requires that online notarizations would have to include location verification that includes, at a minimum, a prompt to ask the principal if they are in California at the time of the online notarial act. If an online notarization platform hosts notaries licensed both within and outside of California, the bill would direct the platform to maintain functionality to ensure that a principal located in California be directed to a California notary for RON. The bill would also require that the principal’s recorded response be stored with other records of the transaction that will be conclusive (absent fraud or coercion) of the principal’s location. The recent amendments also provide that, prior to January 1, 2025, an online notarization platform is not authorized for use in California and a California notary public shall not provide online notarization for any principal prior to certification by the Secretary of State on its internet website that the Secretary of State’s technology project necessary to implement statutes related to online notarization is complete.
The bill does recognize the proof or acknowledgment of an instrument made through online notarization by a notary public location outside California, but within the United States, made on or before December 31, 2024.
The bill also retains the creation of a private right of civil action against RON platforms under the most recent amendments, though the new language does limit who may bring such an action. Damages can be for the greater of actual damages or statutory damages of $250 per violation. This provision includes the award of costs and attorney’s fees and allows the action to be brought by the Attorney General, a city attorney, or a district attorney.
Congress is also considering a national approach to remote online notarization, the SECURE Notarization Act, which as of this writing last had over 100 sponsors in the House of Representatives.