Justice of the Peace and Commissioner for Oaths

Introduction

A Justice of the Peace, also known as a JP, and Commissioner for Oaths are volunteers who help the public with administrative legal matters. 

They do not charge for their service.

Find a Justice of the Peace

Find a Commissioner for Oaths

What they do 

Both a Justice of the Peace and Commissioner for Oaths can do all of the following:

  • certify copies of documents such as birth certificates and passports to confirm your identity
  • witness affidavits
  • administer an oath.

A Justice of the Peace can authorise the issuing of a search warrant if requested by the Northern Territory (NT) Police. 

Statutory declarations

A JP or Commissioner for Oaths does not have to witness and sign a statutory declaration. 

It can be witnessed by anyone who is 18 or over. 

Find out more information about statutory declarations.

Documents for use overseas 

They are usually not able to witness official documents for use overseas. 

Find out how to get your overseas documents witnessed.

Which do you need 

As they are both able to carry out the same duties, it depends on which one is available in your area, and when you need to see them. 

Both JPs and Commissioner for Oaths should be available outside business hours.


Find a Commissioner for Oaths

To find a Commissioner for Oaths you can do any of the following:

Search the online database

You can search the online database either by region or surname.

Go to a police station 

You can find a Commissioner for Oaths by going to a police station in the Northern Territory.  

Find a list of police stations on the NT Police website

If you live remotely

If there isn't a police station in your local community, you will have to search the online database by region to find the nearest Commissioner for Oaths to you. 

Other people who are Commissioners for Oaths

There are people who are automatically given power under the law to be a Commissioner for Oaths. 

They are also known as ex-officio Commissioner for Oaths. 

These are all of the following: 

  • a member of the Legislative Assembly
  • a member of the Commonwealth Senate who represents the Territory
  • a member of the commonwealth House of Representatives who represents an electorate in the Territory
  • a legal practitioner who holds a practising certificate
  • a police officer
  • anyone appointed by the Attorney-General. 

A person stops being a Commissioner for Oaths when they no longer hold one of these positions.


Find a Justice of the Peace

To find a Justice of the Peace (JP) you can do any of the following:

Search the online database

You can search the online database by region or surname.

Go to a courthouse

You can go to a Local Court registry office from 9am to 4pm and see a JP at the counter.

JPs are also at the Supreme Court registry office but only during certain hours, so you should phone the court before you go. 

If you live remotely

You should search the online database to find the nearest JP in your area. 

Other people who are JPs 

There are people who are automatically given power under the law to be a JP. 

They are also known as ex-officio JPs. 

These people are: 

  • a Supreme Court judge
  • the Master of the Supreme Court
  • the Registrar of the Supreme Court
  • a Local Court judge
  • a Registrar of the local court
  • a Judicial Registrar or Registrar of the Family Court of Australia
  • the Mayor of a municipality
  • any person appointed by the Administrator.

A person stops being a JP when they no longer hold one of these positions.


How to become a Justice of the Peace

Being a Justice of the Peace (JP) is an honorary position, meaning you will not be paid. 

Under the law, JPs can be appointed if there is a need in a particular area.

Your appointment may be:

  • for a certain number of years
  • and is dependent on you living in the region where you are appointed. 

JPs are usually appointed for five years, but this can depend on the need in your area. 

Who can apply 

To be eligible for appointment as a JP you must: 

  • have lived in the Northern Territory (NT) for at least 12 months
  • intend to stay in the NT for five years
  • be enrolled on the NT electoral roll at your current address
  • be of good character and able to provide three referee reports
  • be able to show a need for a JP in your community 
  • show knowledge of the role of a JP
  • have a criminal history check by the NT police 
  • agree to confidential inquiries being made about you
  • agree to your name and contact details being published on the internet. 

You will also be interviewed by an officer from the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice or the NT police.

For more information read the JP handbook (636.4 kb).

How to apply

Step 1. Request a JP application pack. You can do this by either: 

You will be contacted to discuss your application, and whether there is a need for a JP in your area. 

Step 2. You must return all of the following documents:

  • your completed original application form
  • signed photo ID - eg: both sides of your driver licence showing your signature, or your passport
  • three original copies of character references from respected members of your community
  • a completed criminal history check application form and photo identity documents.

Read how to apply for a criminal history check.

Step 3. Send the documents by post:

Statutory Appointments Officer
Department of the Attorney-General and Justice
GPO Box 1722
Darwin NT 0801

Incomplete applications

You may be contacted or your application returned if it is incomplete.

This includes if you:

  • have not provided original documents
  • have not answered all the questions on the application form
  • have not provided evidence of change of name or proof of use of change of name
  • have not provided signed photo ID
  • are married but have not provided a maiden name
  • have not provided a completed criminal history check application form
  • have not provided three character references
  • have not signed or had witnessed the statutory declaration page of the application form
  • are not enrolled in the NT electoral roll at your current address. 

If you are successful

If you are appointed as a JP you must follow the standards of conduct. This includes:

  • making yourself available, within reason, to people who need your services.
  • treating all people looking to use your services with courtesy, dignity and respect
  • dealing with requests for your services in a timely manner
  • not being dishonest or doing anything to bring the office of JP into disrepute
  • not asking for a fee or accepting payment for signing documents
  • update your details on the database if you change your address, job or phone number. 

For more information read Attachment A in the JP handbook (636.4 kb).

How to renew as a JP

Renewal of your appointment as a JP is not automatic.

You will be sent a letter and a renewal form six months before your appointment expires.

You will need to provide a copy of your photo ID - eg: both sides of your driver licence showing your signature, or your passport.

The identity document doesn't need to be certified. 

If you have any questions, contact the Statutory Appointments Officer by either:

Termination 

You will no longer be a JP if any of the following apply:

  • the Administrator of the NT terminates your appointment
  • the appointment was subject to a condition that isn't fulfilled
  • your appointment period expires
  • you stop living in the NT
  • you resign in writing by post or email to:

Statutory Appointments Officer
Department of the Attorney-General and Justice
GPO Box 1722
Darwin NT 0801
statutoryappointmentsoffice@nt.gov.au


How to become a Commissioner for Oaths

Being a Commissioner for Oaths is an honorary position, meaning you will not be paid. 

You are not entitled to charge a fee for your services.

You must be able to demonstrate there is a need for a Commissioner for Oaths where you live or in your work. The position is normally held for two or five years.

Before you apply

To apply you must be:

  1. An Australian citizen
  2. Of good character
  3. Registered on the NT electoral roll.
  4. Able to demonstrate you understand the nature of the role. You can read more about powers, duties and responsibilities on the notes for guidance (pdf 224 kb).

Documents you will need 

You must submit all of the following:

How to apply

Step 1. Complete the Commissioner for Oaths application form (405.4 kb)
Step 2. Send your application form and documents listed above to:  

Statutory Appointments Officer
Department of the Attorney-General and Justice
GPO Box 1722
Darwin NT 0801

You should allow three or four months for your application to be processed.

If you are successful

You must do all of the following:

  • make yourself available within reason, to people who need your services.
  • not ask for a fee or accept payment for signing documents.
  • update your details on the database if you change your address, job or phone number. 

Renewing your application

You will be sent a renewal application within two months of your appointment expiring.

You will need to prove your suitability and need for a Commissioner for Oaths where you live or work.

If you have any questions, contact the statutory appointments officer by either:


Update your details on the database

If you are a Justice of the Peace or Commissioner for Oaths, you must tell the Statutory Appointments Officer if your details change, such as your address and phone number.

You can either:

Statutory Appointments Officer
Phone: (08) 8999 1809
Fax: (08) 8935 7414
Email: statutoryappointmentsoffice@nt.gov.au


Code of conduct: Justice of the Peace

This code establishes acceptable standards of conduct for Justices of the Peace appointed in the Northern Territory under the Justices of the Peace Act.

1. Access to services

(1) A Justice of the Peace must not unreasonably refuse to provide Justice of the Peace services and must treat all persons seeking such services with courtesy, dignity and respect.
 
(2) A Justice of the Peace must deal with requests for Justice of the Peace services in a timely manner.

2. Conduct and integrity

(1) A Justice of the Peace must not engage in dishonest activities or conduct himself or herself in such a way as to bring the office of Justice of the Peace into disrepute.
 
(2) A Justice of the Peace must keep safe and must not reveal information which is private, confidential or commercially-sensitive and which the Justice of the Peace has obtained when providing Justice of the Peace services, unless authorised by law.
 
(3) A Justice of the Peace must remain independent and impartial when providing Justice of the Peace services.
 
(4) If a Justice of the Peace has a personal, family, financial or business interest in a matter before them, the Justice of the Peace must disclose the interest to the person seeking Justice of the Peace services or decline to provide Justice of the Peace services in that matter.
 
(5) If the term of appointment of a Justice of the Peace expires and the person has not been reappointed or if the Justice of the Peace has been removed from office by the Administrator, the person must immediately cease providing Justice of the Peace services.

3. Financial and personal benefit

(1) A Justice of the Peace must not charge a fee or accept a gift or donation, either directly or indirectly, for providing Justice of the Peace services.
 
(2) A Justice of the Peace must not use the title of Justice of the Peace to claim or imply that he or she has any special authority, credibility or status, or to advance or appear to advance his or her own interests in any business, commercial or personal transaction or dispute.
 
(3) However, a Justice of the Peace may use the title of Justice of the Peace to advertise his or her availability to perform Justice of the Peace services for the public or clients (including by using the title after his or her name on a business card or letterhead, whether in hard copy or electronic form).

4. Knowledge and competence

 (1) A Justice of the Peace must be familiar with and follow the provisions in the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice’s publication Justice of the Peace Handbook.
 
(2) A Justice of the Peace must never witness a document unless he or she is satisfied as to the identity of the person and has seen the person sign the document in the Justices of the Peace presence.
 
(3) Where an Act of Parliament provides that a declaration or instrument be signed or attested by a Justice of the Peace, the Justice of the Peace must do so in accordance with any instructions under that Act and any instructions on the declaration or instrument.
 
(4) A Justice of the Peace must not offer legal advice in his or her capacity as a Justice of the Peace.

(5) A Justice of the Peace must clearly record his or her Justice of the Peace registration number together with his or her full name and signature when performing Justice of the Peace services. 

5. Notifications

(1) A Justice of the Peace must notify the Clerk of the Peace in writing of any of the following matters as soon as practicable after:

(a) being convicted of a criminal offence;
(b) being found to have acted dishonestly by any court, tribunal, inquiry, regulatory agency, complaint handling or dispute resolution body or professional, business, trade or industry association;
(c) becoming bankrupt or making any debt agreement or personal insolvency agreement under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 of the Commonwealth;
(d) being disqualified from being involved in the management of any company under the Corporations Act 2001 of the Commonwealth; or
(e) being suspended or disqualified from holding any licence, registration, certificate or membership in relation to any profession, business, trade or industry.

 
(2) A Justice of the Peace must update their details on the Justice of the Peace database or notify the Clerk of the Peace in writing of any of the following changes as soon as practicable after that change:
 
(a) a change to the name of the Justice of the Peace;
(b) a change to his or her postal, residential or email address; or
(c) a change to the telephone number on which the Justice of the Peace can be contacted in relation to Justice of the Peace services.

Acknowledgement of sources: Schedule 1 to the Justices of the Peace Regulations 2014 (NSW)


Code of conduct: Commissioner for Oaths

This code establishes acceptable standards of conduct for Commissioner for Oaths appointed in the Northern Territory under the Oaths, Affidavits and Declarations Act. 

1. Access to services

(1) A Commissioner for Oaths must not unreasonably refuse to provide Commissioner for Oaths services and must treat all persons seeking such services with courtesy, dignity and respect.

(2) A Commissioner for Oaths must deal with requests for Commissioner for Oaths services in a timely manner.

2. Conduct and integrity

(1) A Commissioner for Oaths must not engage in dishonest activities or conduct himself or herself in such a way as to bring the office of Commissioner for Oaths into disrepute.

(2) A Commissioner for Oaths must keep safe and must not reveal information which is private, confidential or commercially-sensitive and which the Commissioner for Oaths has obtained when providing Commissioner for Oaths services, unless authorised by law.

(3) A Commissioner for Oaths must remain independent and impartial when providing Commissioner for Oaths services.

(4) If a Commissioner for Oaths has a personal, family, financial or business interest in a matter before them, the Commissioner for Oaths must disclose the interest to the person seeking Commissioner for Oaths services or decline to provide Commissioner for Oaths services in that matter.

(5) If the term of appointment of a Commissioner for Oaths expires and the person has not been reappointed or if the Commissioner for Oaths has been removed from office by the Minister, the person must immediately cease providing Commissioner for Oaths services.

3. Financial and personal benefit

(1) A Commissioner for Oaths must not charge a fee or accept a gift or donation, either directly or indirectly, for providing Commissioner for Oaths services.

(2) A Commissioner for Oaths must not use the title of Commissioner for Oaths to claim or imply that he or she has any special authority, credibility or status, or to advance or appear to advance his or her own interests in any business, commercial or personal transaction or dispute.

(3) However, a Commissioner for Oaths may use the title of Commissioner for Oaths to advertise his or her availability to perform Commissioner for Oaths services for the public or clients (including by using the title after his or her name on a business card or letterhead, whether in hard copy or electronic form).

4. Knowledge and competence

(1) A Commissioner for Oaths must be familiar with and follow the provisions in the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice's publication Commissioner for Oaths Handbook.

(2) A Commissioner for Oaths must never witness a document unless he or she is satisfied as to the identity of the person and is satisfied that it is the person's signature. For example, the document has been signed in the presence of the Commissioner for Oaths.

(3) Where an Act of Parliament provides that a declaration or instrument be signed or attested by a Commissioner for Oaths, the Commissioner for Oaths must do so in accordance with any instructions under that Act and any instructions on the declaration or instrument.

(4) A Commissioner for Oaths must not offer legal advice in his or her capacity as a Commissioner for Oaths.

(5) A Commissioner for Oaths must clearly record his or her Commissioner for Oaths registration number together with his or her full name and signature when performing Commissioner for Oaths services.

5. Notifications

(1) A Commissioner for Oaths must notify the Statutory Appointments Officer in writing of any of the following matters as soon as practicable after:

(a) being found guilty of a criminal offence;

(b) being found to have acted dishonestly by any court, tribunal, inquiry, regulatory agency, complaint handling or dispute resolution body or professional, business, trade or industry association;

(c) becoming bankrupt or making any debt agreement or personal insolvency agreement under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 of the Commonwealth;

(d) being disqualified from being involved in the management of any company under the Corporations Act 2001 of the Commonwealth;

(e) being suspended or disqualified from holding any licence, registration, certificate or membership in relation to any profession, business, trade or industry.

(2) A Commissioner for Oaths must update their details on the Commissioner for Oaths database or notify the Statutory Appointments Officer in writing of any of the following changes as soon as practicable after that change:

(a) a change to the name of the Commissioner for Oaths;

(b) a change to his or her postal, residential or email address, or;

(c) a change to the telephone number on which the Commissioner for Oaths can be contacted in relation to Commissioner for Oaths services.