Justices of the Peace are respected citizens who are entrusted by the community to take on special responsibilities.
These people are usually someone with a high regard for, or good standing within, the community who are authorised to witness, sign and certify a wide variety of different official documents. The most common examples of these are:
The criteria required for appointment a Justice does quite vary widely and is mostly dependant on the State you live in. In Queensland, for example, before a person becomes a Justice of the Peace they are required to complete an exam prior to being eligible for the appointment. In contrast though, a citizen of Melbourne is only required to bring forth references in order to prove their good character.
The types of functions that are performed also differ depending on the State’s legislation. In Sydney and New South Wales, Justices that have been employed by the Attorney-General's Office are permitted to issue certain varieties of warrants, and are also able to perform minor judicial functions, including granting bail outside of the regular sitting hours for the courts.
Justices in Perth and South Australia, though, are divided into two types, the Justices of the Peace and the Special Justices.
The Justices of the Peace in South Australia are typically people who are of good stature within the community, and authorised to witness and sign statutory declarations, affidavits, waiver rights, search warrants, drug warrants, divorce documents, and to certify copies of original documents and to witness the signing of power of attorney and guardianship documents.
A Special Justice differs in that they are a higher rank of Justice of the Peace, their responsibilities also typically included attending the magistrates' court on the bench, however they are usually only found during hearing cases in the petty divisions.
It is advisable that you check what kind of services Justices of the Peace are allowed to perform in your state, before going forth to consult with one.
A document that has been certified by a Justice of the Peace within Australia is usually not accepted as proof of the documents certification within a foreign country. There are some exceptions to the rule though, countries within the Commonwealth have been known to accept documents that have been certified within Australia, however this is largely dependent upon the local legislation. Countries that do not have a Justice of the Peace typically have an alternative system like the Notary Public; as Notaries Public are often lawyers, the best method to arrange a meeting with one is to get in touch with the local law society.
Justices are usually contacted on an individual basis, depending on your local area, however they are also known to volunteer their time to work within "Daily Rooms", commonly found in the Courts, where they assist in the processing of courts documents and are also usually available to attend to the public for most witnessing and certification duties.
If you’re looking for more information, contact a Justice of the Peace within your local area.
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