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​The role of JPs



What is the role of a JP?

Justices of the Peace (JPs) are volunteers appointed by the Governor of New South Wales. The primary roles of a JP are to witness a person making a statutory declaration or affidavit, and to certify copies of original documents. JPs come from all sections of the community and are available across NSW. 

A statutory declaration is a written statement which a person declares to be true in the presence of an authorised witness.  Various organisations such as banks, insurance companies and superannuation providers often require information provided to them via a statutory declaration.

An affidavit is a written statement for use as evidence in court proceedings. A person making an affidavit must promise he or she is telling the truth in the presence of an authorised witness.

A certified copy of an original document may be required by various organisations. This avoids the need of a person to submit original documentation such as a birth certificate or academic qualifications.

A JP is trusted to be honest and impartial when performing their functions. They cannot:

  • unreasonably refuse to provide JP services
  • charge you a fee or accept a gift for providing JP services
  • assist or write in a statutory declaration or affidavit
  • provide you with legal advice.

The following resources are available to learn more about the role of JPs:

Handbook

The JP Handbook outlines the functions of a JP, including the procedure for how to perform those functions correctly. 

You can download a free copy of the complete handbook or download it in sections below. You can also purchase a professionally printed copy through JP Online.

Submit feedback about a JP

Your feedback is important to us. You are welcome to contact us with a suggestion, compliment or a complaint about a NSW JP.

If you would like to make a suggestion or compliment, you can either email or write to Appointment Services.

If you are dissatisfied with the conduct of a JP and want to make a complaint, it must be made in writing to Appointment Services. Please read the guidelines below to find out more about how to lodge a complaint.

Lodging a complaint

To raise a complaint, it must:

  • be made in writing
  • include the full name and contact details of the complainant
  • identify the JP concerned, preferably by name and/or JP registration number
  • provide specific details of the nature of the complaint
  • be lodged within six months of the conduct taking place, unless the department determines exceptional circumstances exist.

We will assess a complaint before determining whether to accept or decline it.

We will generally accept complaints that raise:

  • matters concerning the eligibility of the JP to continue to hold the office, and
  • conduct relating to the role and obligations of a JP when providing JP services.

We will generally decline to consider complaints that are:

  • about a JP's personal behaviour, private dealings or professional conduct (including private legal matters) where they are unrelated to the provision of JP services, and/or
  • of a nature that may appropriately be reported to an investigatory or regulatory agency or similar authority.

Please note that we can't become involved in private legal matters or private disputes between a complainant and a JP.

The NSW Police Force is responsible for investigating alleged criminal conduct. There are a range of regulatory bodies that may investigate alleged professional misconduct. If the JP is ultimately convicted of a criminal offence or an adverse finding is made about the JP by a court, tribunal, regulatory agency, complaint handling or dispute resolution body, we may at that time review the person's appointment as a JP.

Complaints handling

We will acknowledge your complaint within three business days of receiving it. You will then be notified about whether your complaint has been accepted or declined within three weeks. Finalising a complaint generally takes longer, as we contact the relevant JP and provide them with at least three weeks to respond.

If we accept your complaint, we will likely take one of the following actions:

  1. record the complaint but determining not to take further action at the present time
  2. issue a reminder letter to the JP about correct procedure
  3. issue a warning letter to the JP that a further breach may result in the review of his or her appointment
  4. review the JP's appointment. Following a review of a person's appointment, the Attorney General may recommend to the Governor that the person be removed from office as a JP.

Please note we are unable to take any other disciplinary action against JPs. This includes compelling a person who is a JP to do or say anything in relation to their personal behaviour, private dealings or professional conduct (including private legal matters).

Usually, we won't provide details of the outcome of your complaint. This is because any disciplinary action must remain confidential. If a JP is removed from office, their details will be taken off the Public register of JPs

The department's decision about a JP complaint is final, however you can request a review of the decision if you provide new information or evidence relevant to the complaint.

If you feel that we have not handled your complaint about a JP properly, you can contact the NSW Ombudsman about our conduct. The NSW Ombudsman can investigate our conduct as a public authority (they can't investigate JPs as private individuals).

Protecting your privacy and confidentiality

While we can handle a complaint confidentially, this may limit our ability to examine or resolve your concerns. If this is the case, we will contact you to discuss the issue before taking further action.

If we accept your complaint, the principles of procedural fairness require that we provide the JP with details of the allegation and allow them the opportunity to respond before issuing a warning letter or reviewing the JP’s appointment.

Providing the JP with details of your complaint, even if we withhold your name and contact details, may still enable the JP to identify you as the complainant. For this reason, in most cases we will need your consent to pursue your complaint with the JP.

More information

For more details about lodging a complaint and complaint handling, please read the Guidelines on the appointment of JPs: handling complaints and reviewing appointments [PDF 116KB]