A Public Notary is an officer of the law. It is the Notary’s business to authenticate documents through special care and solemnity. Unlike a Justice of the Peace, who is appointed under state laws, the office of Public Notary is recognised almost anywhere in the world. Therefore, people needing to have a document formally recognised in a foreign country, will seek out the services of a Public Notary to certify its genuineness for them, confident that it will be accepted and acted upon.
The Public Notary has an interest in making sure that people are who they say they are, and that important documents are what they appear to be. Someone who makes an oath and swears to the authenticity of a document, or of evidence given before a Court, must be conscious of the seriousness of the act.
Penalties for telling untruths can be thought of as either spiritual or temporal, or both. An oath may be sworn on the Bible or other sacred text; or you may prefer to make a non-religious affirmation. A Statutory Declaration (similar to an Affidavit) is made under the Oaths Act. You can incur a fine or even imprisonment for making a false statement that you have sworn or affirmed on your oath to be true.