Statutes dictate which instruments must be acknowledged. Generally speaking, any instrument which is recorded must be acknowledged. Before an instrument is recorded, its execution is acknowledged. Acknowledgment is a means of authenticating an instrument by showing that the instrument was the act of the person executing it. Execution is acknowledged by the following:
- by the person executing it; or
- if executed by a corporation, by its representative. It could be its president, vice president, secretary, or assistant secretary or by any other person duly authorized by resolution by the corporation to act on behalf of the corporation.
A subscribing witness must prove execution of the instrument and proof of execution may be notarized. An acknowledgment gives solemnity to the execution of an instrument, and provides protection against the recording of false instruments. An acknowledgment has three functions:
- to authenticate the instrument;
- to permit the instrument be introduced into evidence without proof of execution; and
- to entitle the instrument to be recorded.
An acknowledgment may also give validity to an instrument that is required by law to be acknowledged. Although the duties performed by an officer in taking an acknowledgment are generally regarded as being ministerial rather than judicial in nature. Some courts are of the view that the duties involved in the acknowledgment of an instrument, whether or not performed by a judge, are judicial or at least quasi judicial.