What can a Justice of the Peace do?
Understanding the reach and rules of a JP
We’ve all seen a Justice of the Peace before. They’re the person in the little cubicle at the shopping centre with a sign reading JP Here 10 – 4, or something along those lines. You’ve probably even used a JP to witness some documents or sign off on true copies of originals like your birth certificate or passport.
What is the full extent of a JP’s responsibilities and powers? What can a Justice of the Peace do? And how do they become a JP?
What is a Justice of the Peace?
A Justice of the Peace or a JP as they are sometimes called, is someone who has undertaken the required training and been appointed to the position of Justice of the Peace. They volunteer their services to help in the community.
How do they serve their community?
JPs serve their community by volunteering their time and services. A Justice of the Peace is not legally allowed to charge anyone for their services as a JP. It’s likely you have had contact with at least one JP apart of the volunteer program, JPs in the Community.
This program is run by the state government with the mission of making JPs regularly available to their communities. They are a part of a rotating roster of JPs who man signing sites at shopping centres, libraries, courts, universities and hospitals.
JPs can also list their details on the after hours JP register so that people can find them and request their services as needed. A JP cannot refuse a reasonable request for their services as it is a part of their role to serve their community.
As a JP you are required to volunteer your services. This might be through the JPs in the community program or through the after-hours JP register. Either way you must make yourself available in your role as an appointed Justice of the Peace to serve your community.
What can a Justice of the Peace do?
A Justice of the Peace plays a vital role in the community. JPs volunteer their time to their community, and they perform a variety of justice related services.
A JP can:
- Witness oaths or affidavits
- Take statutory declarations and affirmations
- Witness signatures
- Attest the execution of a document
- Certify a true copy of an original document
- Issue search warrants
- Issue arrest warrants
- Grant bail
How do you become a Justice of the Peace?
To become a JP, you must first complete the required training. This course is called 10794NAT – Course in Community Justice Services (Justice of the Peace Qualifed). This is the course for those living in Queensland and wanting to become a JP in Queensland. The course is different in each state and you cannot be a JP in QLD if you have completed training outside of QLD.
This course covers everything you’ll need to know to hold office and offer your services as a Justice of the Peace.
To gain this required training you have two options when studying with Asset College. You can either complete the course online through self-directed study and completing online JP assessments or you can complete it in person in a two day face-to-face workshop at our Gold Coast or North Lakes campuses.
To be able to apply to hold office as a JP, you will need to have the qualification mentioned above but in addition to this you will also need to meet strict requirements.
To become a JP you must:
- Be an Australia citizen
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be of good character
- Be registered on the Queensland electoral roll
- Have completed the relevant training
You cannot apply to hold office as a JP if you:
- Have been convicted of a serious offence at any time ( i.e. an indictable offence irrespective of whether it was dealt with in the magistrates, district or supreme court)
- Have been convicted of more than 2 offences of any kind at any time
- Have been convicted of an offence of any kind in the last five years
- Have been convicted of an alcohol or drug driving offence in the last five years
- Have been convicted of more than two traffic offences in the last four years ( i.e. convictions under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995)
- Are an undischarged bankrupt (i.e. not yet free from bankruptcy)
Also, if you have been convicted of more than 6 offences under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 in a 4 year period you are not qualified to be appointed to the position of JP for five years after the date of your last conviction.
If you are at all unsure if you would be able to become a JP, you can read about the requirements in the Justices of the Peace and Commissioners for Declarations Act of 1991 here or by calling the Justice of the Peace Branch on 1300 301 147.
Once you have completed your training and gained your qualification you have to apply to hold office as a Justice of the Peace. This application is made through your State Member of Parliament (MP). You will need to provide your statement of attainment from the JP course, a written character reference from two suitable referees and proof of your Australian citizenship (if you were born overseas).
Once the application is submitted to your MP, they may contact you to arrange an interview and then they will nominate you for the office of JP.
Your MP makes this nomination to the Department of Justice and Attorney-General. They will then assess your application against relevant sections of legislation such as; the Justices of the Peace and Commissioners for Declarations Act of 1991 and the Justices of the Peace and Commissioners for Declaration Regulation of 2017.
The whole process can take up to 3 months and once you’re approved you will then need to take an oath or affirmation in front of a magistrate and pay your registration fee before you begin your duties as JP.
Becoming a Justice of the Peace is a challenging undertaking, but it can be one of the most rewarding things you can do. A JP is often there for the most important times in someone’s life. Whether you’re buying a house, getting divorced or preparing power of attorney documents, a JP will help you get the paperwork in order.
If you don’t want the full responsibility of a Justice of the Peace but are still interested in witnessing signatures and certifying copies, check out Commissioner for Declarations.