The European Civil Law tradition stipulated that transactional law and functions involved with the preparation and authentication—and even the preservation—of legal documents developed as a separate system from the functions of the courts and its advocates, or attorneys. Under a legal tradition that valued the introduction of written evidence over oral testimony, notaries were responsible for preparing those legal documents and authenticating them for presentation to the courts.
In addition to preparing and authenticating documents, the notarius also had full responsibility for recording his transactions in a format that would preserve them for future reference by the parties, courts and other elements of society. The result was the creation of the permanent notarial register, or protocols. Generally, at the end of each year the notary arranged for the binding of the individual documents he had prepared into a single volume arranged in chronological order, often adding a cover sheet and table of contents. Be aware, in many cases the law required a document to be signed before the notary, but did not require that it be recorded for permanent preservation.