What is a Justice of the Peace?
Justices of the Peace, commonly known as ‘JPs’, are independent and impartial witnesses to documents utilised for official or legal purposes. In certain jurisdictions, justices of the peace may take on a variety of legal responsibilities. In Australia, a justice of the peace is generally someone who is well respected in the community and has been authorised to witness and sign statutory declarations and affidavits, as well as certify copies of original papers. The criteria for appointment differ widely from state to state.
Roles & Responsibilities
A Justice of the Peace (JP) is a "puisne judicial officer" elected or appointed by a commission to maintain order. They may issue summary justice in common law countries, or merely handle local administrative applications. In certain jurisdictions, justices of the peace are chosen or elected from the population of the jurisdiction they serve, and are not required to have extensive legal education in order to qualify for the job, although they may be required to have various sorts of training specifically for JPs in some cases.
Generally, the responsibility of a Justice of the Peace includes:
- witnessing oaths or affidavits
- taking statutory declarations and affirmations
- witness signatures
- attesting the execution of a document
- certifying a true copy of an original document
JPs in Queensland
In the state of Queensland, a "justice of the peace (qualified)" has the power to issue search warrants and arrest warrants in conjunction with another justice of the peace (qualified) to form a magistrates' court for remanding defendants in custody, granting bail, and adjourning court hearings.
Some justices are designated as magistrates' court justices (magistrates) to undertake many of the duties that would be handled by a stipendiary magistrate in more populated areas.
In Queensland, a lawyer may be appointed as a Justice of the Peace without additional training or experience and is endowed with all of the responsibilities and rights of a JP (Magistrate's Court). The power to administer oaths and affirmations is contained in a commissioner for declarations (C.dec), who may only observe papers, statutory declarations, affidavits
The first woman to be appointed a JP in Queensland was Matilda (Maud) Hennessey of Mackay, who received the accolade on April 24, 1918.
Queensland Justices Association
The Queensland Justices Association is a group for Queensland Justices of the Peace (JP) and Commissioners for Declaration (Cdec). It was founded in 1918 and is Australia's largest membership organization for our profession. QJA, which is a company limited by guarantee, is also a Registered Training Organization (RTO) licensed to provide training to individuals wanting to become a JP or Cdec in Queensland.
The Queensland Justices Association was formed not long after the passage of the Justices Act Amendment Act 1909, which terminated the somewhat prestigious adjudicating role formerly performed by some justices of the peace (as honorary magistrates in respect of minor judicial matters) and restricted only legally educated (and salaried) magistrates to do so.
How to Become a Justice of the Peace
Being a justice of the peace is an important job with a high degree of responsibility. As a justice of the peace, you will be handling important documents for the community that can have a significant impact on the lives of individuals. In Australia, Justices of the Peace are actively involved in the legal system and community. If you agree to serve as a JP in Australia, you will contribute significant and useful services to your neighborhood's justice administration.
In Queensland, a justice of the peace has the power to issue arrest and search warrants and establish a magistrates' court that can grant bail, remand offenders in custody, and adjourn court sessions with the assistance of another justice of the peace.
Several tasks that would otherwise be carried out by a stipendiary magistrate are given to a justice of the peace QLD, generally in isolated Aboriginal communities, who are appointed as JPs.
A lawyer can be made a Justice of the Peace in Queensland without any additional education or experience and has the same authority as a Justice of the Peace.
Here are a few:
- Need to be at least 18 years old
- Must be an Australian citizen
- Must be registered on the Queensland electoral roll
- Must be of good character
- Must complete a relevant training course, such as the Justice of the Peace (qualified) course or a course in community justice services (Commissioner for Declarations).
Why Become a Justice of the Peace?
There are several reasons why someone might wish to join the JP program. Some people choose to be JPs in order to assist at work. Others are inspired by a family member or friend. JPs are individuals who, like millions of Australian volunteers, have the same goals as other volunteers: they want to help others or their community and acquire personal fulfillment from doing good deeds. It's all about being charitable.
Get in Touch
If you’re trying to find a justice of the peace, or are searching for a ‘justice of the peace near me’, use our website to view a justice of the peace list and justice of the peace register. The Queensland Justices Association offers the best training and development to become the best justice of the peace QLD you can be.