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Notar reading contract aloud - historical background?

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The Contract for Sale is sent well ahead of time to both parties, who have tons of time to peruse it. Therefore the reading aloud seems to me to be (a) completely pointless and (b) a waste of time ($$s!).

As far as understanding is concerned, who on earth could keep the entirety of a verbal reading in their heads enough to be certain they have understood all the fine points?

 

There must be some reason for this practice. My Notar just says "It is required" but does not know (!!) /why/ it is required.

Does anyone know what the historical background for this is?  The only thing I can think of is that it has its roots in a time when only a small percentage of the population could read, but I find this rationale less than persuasive.

 

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Source: https://www.notariat-sasel.de/de/ablauf-beurkundungsverfahren

  • The notary reads the entire text of the deed to you and presents any maps, drawings and illustrations contained therein for your perusal. This is required by law. Reading the deed aloud may seem a bit old-fashioned, but it ensures that all parties involved have heard the full text of the deed at least once. In addition, reading the deed aloud allows the notary to verify the content of the deed better than if he were to just read it silently. You might be surprised how many inconsistencies you only become aware of when the deed is read aloud.

The law he refers to is §13 (1) Beurkundungsgesetz: https://dejure.org/gesetze/BeurkG/13.html

  • (1) 1The document had to be read out to the parties in the presence of the notary, approved by them and signed by their own hand; insofar as the minutes refer to maps, drawings or illustrations, these must be presented to the parties for review instead of being read out.2The document shall state that this has been done.3 If the parties have signed the document with their own hand, it shall be presumed that they have been read out in the presence of the notary or, insofar as required under sentence 1, submitted for review and approved by the parties.4The document shall also be submitted to the parties for review upon request before approval.
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I have no problem with "old-fashioned", but I can state with complete certainty that my understanding of a contract is derived from reading and re-reading it.

To hear it read aloud once would not be a substitute for me, but perhaps I am in the minority.

 

> You might be surprised how many inconsistencies you only become aware of when the deed is read aloud.

I'll have to take your word on this, as my vast experience encompasses exactly two contracts to date :)

 

Did this practice first appear in §13 (1) Beurkundungsgesetz?  If not, when did it first start happening, ie what is the historical precedent?

The web is remarkably useless on this.

 

Nevertheless, I find it curious. If it's such a good thing, why doesn't this also happen in the USA, UK, NL, CZ and France? (Those are the only countries where I know people who've bought property.)

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When I bought, the reason given was because of my lack of German language.  As I recall, the notar read aloud and my required translator translated....aloud, to insure my understanding.

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The reading aloud isn't to do with one's facility in the German language, it's done for native Germans too.

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2 hours ago, MaineCoon said:

> You might be surprised how many inconsistencies you only become aware of when the deed is read aloud.

I'll have to take your word on this, as my vast experience encompasses exactly two contracts to date :)

That wasn't me talking, but the notary, translated by DeepL.com into English.

So yes, I think we can safely assume that his experience of mistakes in deeds that he caught when reading the document aloud exceeds ours ;-)

 

2 hours ago, MaineCoon said:

Did this practice first appear in §13 (1) Beurkundungsgesetz?  If not, when did it first start happening, ie what is the historical precedent?

According to this treatise, it first appeared in 1512, in §29 of the Reichsnotariatsordnung of Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperorhttps://www.dnotv.de/stellungnahmen/vorschlaege-der-bundesnotarkammer-zur-aenderung-des-beurkundungsgesetzes/

 

2 hours ago, MaineCoon said:

Nevertheless, I find it curious. If it's such a good thing, why doesn't this also happen in the USA, UK, NL, CZ and France? (Those are the only countries where I know people who've bought property.)

Well, Austria also has the "reading aloud": http://www.prayer-rahs.at/beurkundungen.html

And so do some Kantone in Switzerland: https://www.beobachter.ch/gesetze-recht/offentliche-beurkundung-mussen-wir-damit-zum-notar

And then there's Bosnia-Herzegovina, notaries there also have to read everything aloud, see article 80 of their Notargesetz, which is very similar to §13 BeurkG: https://notaribih.ba/sites/default/files/dokumenti/notargesetz_fbh.pdf

 

Bosnia-Herzegovina has a history of copying from Germany. Their currency, the BAM, is the "convertible mark", i.e. the German mark with its fixed exchange rate of 1€ = 1.95583 DM.

So in one corner of the world, the gold old DM is alive and well ;-) 

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I can confirm the notary also reads out the contract in France. I was there. :lol:

Presumably blind people and the partially sighted also buy property.

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12 hours ago, PandaMunich said:

Source: https://www.notariat-sasel.de/de/ablauf-beurkundungsverfahren

  • You might be surprised how many inconsistencies you only become aware of when the deed is read aloud.

 

 

This!

Not only for contracts.   The brain auto-corrects a lot of mistakes. 

 

 

being dead1.jpg

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I suppose historically, literacy was so much lower than nowadays, the Notar had to read out contracts by necessity. Also, I suppose it helped people whose eyesight was failing and didn't have access to eye glasses or monocles. As literacy and eye-care improved,  reading aloud still helped to allow legal jargon to be explained. Finally, as mentioned above, it legally verifies that everyone heard the contract, understood it (or claimed to!) and did not raise any objections prior to signing it.

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@tor Nice one, made me laugh out loud :)

 

@PandaMunich: Blimey, it's amazing that Mazimilian I ever found time to sleep. There seems to be no sphere that he wasn't interested in, involved with, and contributed to - usually with a very positive effect. Not many rulers can brag of leaving a 400+ year legacy. I do wish he hadn't chosen 'Fraktur' font though - it's really hard to read.

Fascinating stuff - I've tripped over "Zeitschrift für das Notariat in Baden-Württemberg" (2002) at archive.org which talks about the beginnings a bit more.

There are some references to "der Rezeption" in the WP article, as well as the Zeitschrift one, but annoyingly the relevant WP article is very short on history and background for the particular period. oh well.

 

Thank you very much for the references, really appreciated. After I've become an historical scholar* on the Hapsburgs, perhaps I'll be able to appreciate the nuances of it all a bit better. I can see why Wills had to be read aloud, especially given that in them thar' days many people got a scribe to write their Wills for them as they lacked the ability themselves. Still can't help thinking the Bundesnotarkammer were not at all interested in changes which might affect their pockets. For eg., it is not unreasonable that a "reading aloud waiver" be granted if both parties request it - however this is not an option for the main Contract. Hmph.

* Not sure in which life though.

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On 6/15/2022, 11:26:07, MaineCoon said:

 

Nevertheless, I find it curious. If it's such a good thing, why doesn't this also happen in the USA, UK, NL, CZ and France? (Those are the only countries where I know people who've bought property.)

 

In Italy is the same as in Germany.

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