Justices of the Peace can witness legal documents including statutory declarations and affidavits, as well as certifying true copies of a document. Their services are provided without charge. Notaries public also witness legal documents but primarily documents that are for use in foreign courts or by foreign authorities. Notaries public can charge for their services. Justice of the Peace Services which is part of the Attorney-general's Department is responsible for the administration of the application, appointment, conduct and removal of Justices of the Peace.
Who can be a JP?
Anyone can be a JP as long as they are over 18, a South Australian resident, of good character, understand their duties and powers, can speak English well enough to understand documents, their duties and seek advice where necessary, and they must not be a bankrupt nor be disqualified from managing a corporation. They too must live or work in an area that requires a JP. The Governor appoints people as JPs from those nominated by the Attonery General [see Justices of the Peace Act 2005 s 4 and Justices of the Peace Regulations 2006 reg 4].
What are the powers and duties of a JP?
The main duty of a JP is to act as an independent and objective witness for legal documents and proceedings. This includes witnessing or attesting the execution of a document, take an affidavit or statutory declaration, certify a true copy of an original document and certifying the identity of a person. For more information see the Justice of the Peace Handbook.
Code of Conduct
JPs must comply with a code of conduct [see Justices of the Peace Regulations 2006 (SA) sch 1]. This includes not charging a fee for services, acting within their powers, not divulging confidential informationand not acting where they have a conflict of interest. Importantly, they can not administer an oath, witness an instrument or take a declaration from a person they believe does not hold the mental capacity to do so. For more information see the Justice of the Peace Code of Conduct.
How can I complain about a JP?
A complaint can be made if a JP has breached or failed to comply with a condition of employment or breaches or fails to comply with the code of conduct [see Justices of the Peace Act 2005 s 11]. Complaints are made to Justice of the Peace Services and can result in the JP being reprimanded, imposing further conditions on their appointment or suspended. In certain circumstances a JP can be removed from office, in cases such as being convicted of a criminal offence, becoming bankrupt, being physically or mentally unfit for office, or in the Governor's opinion should be removed for any other reason [see Jucitces of the Peace Act 2005 (SA) s 11].
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.