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Is a Justice of the Peace and a Notary Public the same thing?

Justice of the Peace or Notary Public

What is a Justice of the Peace?

 A Justice of the Peace (JP) is a person who is appointed by the Attorney-General’s Department to act as an independent and objective witness to documents used for official legal purposes. Some of the roles that a JP may fulfil are to:

  • Attest the execution of a document;
  • Witness an affidavit for use in court;
  • Witness a statutory declaration;
  • Certify a true copy of an original document; and
  • Certify a person’s identity.

What is a Notary Public?

An Australian Notary Public is a public officer, appointed by the Supreme Court. Pursuant to the Notaries Public Act 2016 (SA), section 5(1) states that a Notary Public can only be appointed if they are a practising lawyer and if they have been admitted and enrolled as a practitioner for at least 5 years. A lawyer does not automatically become a Notary Public once they are admitted.

When a Notary Public is appointed by the Supreme Court of their jurisdiction, they are given statutory powers to witness documents, administer oaths and undertake other administrative functions. These include:

  • Attesting documents and certificates;
  • Preparing certificates of power of attorney, Wills, Deeds, contracts and other legal documents;
  • Administering oaths;
  • Witnessing signatures to affidavits, statutory declarations, power of attorney and contracts;
  • Verifying documents;
  • Certifying documents; and
  • Noting and protesting bills of exchange.

Can a JP perform the functions of a Notary Public?

In short, no, although some functions do overlap. The training and experience of a Notary Public is that of a senior lawyer, capable of giving opinions on matters of law. JPs usually do not have the training and certification to do this.

When would I need a Notary Public? 

Generally, a lawyer or JP will be able to witness and certify your documents. However, there are some specialist applications which will require a Notary Public. For example, you will need a Notary if your documents will be used in a foreign country, as documents used overseas are governed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and require specific verification by a Notary only

Need to know more?

If you need a document authorised but are not sure whether to go to a JP, lawyer or Notary Public, the friendly team at Adelaide Legal can help you.

Please do not hesitate to contact us on (08) 8410 9294 if you have any questions or require further assistance in this or any matter.