The primary role of a Justice of the Peace in Tasmania is to witness Statutory Declarations and receive Affidavits as a voluntary service to the wider community. Any business requirements or work-related needs for signing documents are secondary considerations to local community needs.
To ensure that the office of Justice of the Peace continues to be held in high esteem in the community, the appointment criteria require applicants to:
(i) show details of their past and present voluntary involvement in the general community, and
(ii) demonstrate a need for additional appointments in their locality.
Applicants will also need to obtain three nominations. These nominations may comprise of community-based organisations and/or individuals of good character and standing in the community.
Examples of some community-based organisations could include school councils, service clubs, sporting bodies, charities and the like. Examples of individuals could include people like MPs, JPs, councillors, doctors, lawyers and other prominent persons.
Applicants should also be permanent residents of Tasmania, unless exceptional circumstances exist.
The position of Commissioner for taking Affidavits was abolished by the Magistrates’ Court Act in 1990. This Act also introduced a number of new categories of persons who are authorised to witness documents in Tasmania in addition to Justices of the Peace, such as pharmacists, police officers, doctors, and various other professions. In view of this change, the need for additional appointments has diminished in many localities.
Applications will be considered by the JP Assessment Panel that will make recommendations to the Attorney-General. Prior to this, all applicants will be interviewed by police and subject to a check of police records, as part of the assessment process. This procedure can take many months to complete. Applicants will then be notified in writing of the outcome of their application.
Once the application and nomination forms are completed, they may be either forwarded to this Registry at the address below, or submitted through your local State Member of Parliament, who will forward them to the Attorney-General.
There is no transfer of JP appointments from one State or Territory to another, although any past community service interstate can be taken into account.
Justices of the Peace who were appointed interstate, but now permanently live in Tasmania are able to apply for an appointment in this State in the same manner as other persons.
The functions and duties of Justices of the Peace may vary according the State or Territory of their appointment. In some States, for example, JPs conduct bail hearings and sit in Magistrates’ Court hearings. In Tasmania, the main function of JPs is to witness documents.
Justices of the Peace in this State are appointed to serve the Tasmanian community. They are required to resign their appointment if they leave the State permanently or if they are absent for an extended period, but may reapply for appointment on their return. This does not apply to short trips or holidays, provided that this Registry is notified of the dates of departure and return.
In some States, applicants must sit exams before applying. In Tasmania, short training courses are conducted by the Royal Tasmanian Association of Honorary Justices, on behalf of the Department of Justice. These courses are available after appointments are made.