What can a JP do for you?

A Justice of the Peace, or simply a ‘JP’, can help members of the community with several things, including:

  1. Certifying copies (as true copies).

  2. Statutory declarations needed for several applications such as Visitor sponsorship application, Kiwisaver withdrawal application, Citizenship application, Rates rebate application etc.

  3. Taking oaths, declarations, affidavits or affirmations to be used in courts.

  4. Witnessing signatures on documents.

These functions are called ‘ministerial duties or functions’.

What are JP’s fees?

Unlike in some other countries, in New Zealand, JPs provide their services absolutely free of charge.

Also, JPs do not receive any remuneration from the government.

It is important to note that JP’s services are free irrespective of:

• The residence / citizenship status of their clients.

• The volume of work they may do for a member of the community.

JPs cannot request or accept any gift, in cash or kind.

How to find a JP?

The best way to find a JP is by using the website www.jpfed.org.nz . This website is managed by The Royal Federation of Justices of the Peace, and provides help in finding a JP:

• Living near you.

• Can communicate in your language.

This website also guides the user on how to contact the JP – by phone, cell-phone, email etc.

Yellow Pages also provide a list of JPs both in their on-line and printed versions. However, of late the information on Yellow Pages has been found to be outdated or unreliable, which often causes frustration to those trying to find a JP and get an appointment.

A search using Google may or may not give you the most accurate and updated information.

The most reliable source of information is www.jpfed.org.nz

Where does a JP perform his / her work?

JPs attend to the community at:

  • Their place of residence or work.

  • JP ‘service desks’ which are held at public places such as a library or shopping mall on specific days at some locations in New Zealand. These service desks are becoming increasingly popular.

In exception circumstances, a JP can visit client’s place of residence.

Do I need an appointment to see a JP?

Yes, it is essential to first contact a JP and seek an appointment. JPs often also use this first contact to guide the client about ‘do and don’ts’, what to bring, etc.

On the other hand, no appointment is needed if you are visiting a ‘JP Service desk’. But there may be waiting time if JPs are attending to other clients at the service desk.

Does a JP need to understand the language of the document he or she is certifying as a ‘true copy’?

No, this is not necessary. JPs are not expected to read or understand the contents of the document being presented. JPs simply need to compare the presented document (copy) with the original, and – if satisfied – certify the presented document as the ‘true copy’.

How does a JP certify copies if my original is in an electronic format?

It is absolutely acceptable for the original to be in electronic format; for example – an attachment to an e-mail, an on-line bank statement, an invoice from a service provider, or a text message on a cell-phone. In such cases, you will need to show the JP the ‘original’ document using your cell-phone or computer.

It is important to note that a ‘screenshot’ is not an original. JPs will need to see the actual e-mail (for example – details of sender, receiver, date etc.) or the website.

How are JPs appointed?

JPs are appointed through a very robust process, which includes:

  • Nomination by community organisations.

  • Personal interview with the local Member of Parliament.

  • Police verification and check.

  • Detailed personal interview with Ministry of Justice (District Court official) and local JP association.

  • On-line written test. On-line written test.

The oath which is administered to JPs at their appointment includes the words, “I will do right to all manner of people…..without fear or favour, affection of ill-will”.

JPs are bound by strict public code of ethics and conduct.

For how long are JPs appointed?

JPs are appointed for life. However, JPs may retire due to age, health or other reasons if they are unable to perform their duties.

How do JPs keep themselves updated and trained?

After appointment, JPs attend regular training courses and seminars organised by the local JP association.

JPs also receive a ‘quarterly’, which includes ‘JP education pages’.

Since 2017, an ‘Accreditation’ programme has been put in place to ensure JPs deliver consistent high quality service to the community.

What does ‘Accredited’ appearing against the name of JP on www.jpfed.org.nz mean?

‘Accredited’ means “successfully completing a nationally recognised programme of ongoing education”.

This is similar to a ‘warrant of fitness’ for your vehicle. In simple terms, it means that the JP has attended regular training and passed an on-line assessment. At present, the accreditation period is 3 years.

What is the difference between a Notary and a JP?

A notary is a trained lawyer, and can provide legal advice. A notary may charge for his / her services.

A JP is not a lawyer (lawyers, medical practitioners and police officers cannot become JPs). JPs provide their services for free. JPs cannot provide legal advice.

What other functions can JPs perform?

In addition to the most common ‘ministerial duties’, JPs can perform other functions such as:

  • Witnessing counting of votes at local and parliamentary elections.

  • Issuing search warrants used by Police and other law enforcement agencies.

  • Acting as a judge in family courts, traffic courts etc.

  • Helping district courts with ‘bail bond process’.

  • Being a ‘nominated witness’ for police interview of child / young person and mental health patients.

Some of these duties are ‘judicial duties’ and need special / specific training.

What are the things JPs cannot do?

There are a few things JPs cannot do. These include:

  • Witnessing a will.

  • Certifying copies of documents to be submitted for an ‘apostille certificate’.

  • Documents sometimes needed by overseas countries, which need the document to be ‘notarised’.

  • Any tasks for members of their own family.

How can I help my JP?

You can help your JP by being mindful that JPs serve the community in their own time. You can help by:

  • Being punctual for your appointment. If you cannot make the appointment, please inform your JP well in advance.

  • Having originals and copies well arranged, to save time.

  • Having ‘electronic originals’ ready for showing to the JP when requested.

  • Not offering cash or any gift as a reward.

Tip: This check-list may be useful before visiting a JP.

Some stories from here and there:

A. A German client said that JP services in Germany are chargeable.

B. A Kiwi once reported that the wait time to see a JP in London was ~6 weeks. He sent the documents by courier to New Zealand to have them attended by a JP here.

C. A client whose passport was ‘washed out’ on the day of the travel overseas went to a JP and completed a declaration. The airlines as well as the border control authorities accepted the declaration – together with the ‘washed out’ passport and allowed the journey to proceed.

- contributed by Shirish Paranjape, JP and a Friend of Multicultural Times based in Christchurch