Checklist for visiting a Justice of the Peace
- Phone the Justice of the Peace for an appointment – if using a service desk check online in case you need to phone first.
- Explain what it is you need to be completed – some documents can take more time than you expect.
- Do not sign any of your documents – you may complete the details required but if the document needs to be witnessed, declared or sworn the Justice of the Peace must complete what is required and must personally see you sign it.
- You may wish to take some form of identification. It may not be required but it is as well to be prepared.
- If the documentation you are requiring originated outside New Zealand, check that a New Zealand Justice of the Peace can complete it for you.
- What kind of documentation is involved?
- Do you want a copy certified?
- Is it a statutory declaration, or an affidavit?
- Will the JP witness your signature?
- Is it a marriage dissolution (divorce) application?
- Is it a foreign document?
The Justice of the Peace must see the original of the document in order to certify your copy as a true copy. Have your originals and your copies in separate folders to reduce the possibility of the originals being inadvertently stamped. If you want the Justice of the Peace to make a copy for you ask if they have that ability and what the cost might be. Be specific when making an appointment about how many pages there are and the Justice of the Peace will then be able to give you an idea of how long it will take.
Normally you do not have to be the owner of the documents; you can get a copy certified for another person - but if the copy is going to be used for a bank or other financial institution you will need to bring it and your ID to the JP yourself.
If you have a large number of copies explain this to the Justice of the Peace and ensure they can deal with them. It is not usual practice to leave them with them to collect later.
Statutory Declarations and/or Affidavits
These are legal documents, usually an affidavit is for use in court proceedings and a statutory declaration may be made for any reason. You must be present in person before the Justice of the Peace for these; they cannot be done on behalf of anyone else.
An affidavit must be sworn (an oath taken on a Holy book) or affirmed (sincerely declared and affirmed as true) before the Justice of the Peace.
You must also personally sign these documents in front of the Justice of the Peace.
These are legal documents and the procedure must comply with the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957 or the High Court Rules.
Section 111 of the Crimes Act 1961 provides that:
False statements or declarations
- Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, on any occasion on which he is required or permitted by law to make any statement or declaration before any officer or person authorised by law to take or receive it, or before any notary public to be certified by him as such notary, makes a statement or declaration that would amount to perjury if made on oath in a judicial proceeding.
Tell the Justice of the Peace exactly what type of form requires your signature to be witnessed and whether they are named as being able to do this for you. The form must be yours and you must be the person named in it. It is very useful to take some form of photo identification.
Marriage Dissolution (divorce)
These documents can take some time so tell the Justice of the Peace when you make an appointment.
Tell the Justice of the Peace whether it is a single application or a joint application, and whether one or both of you are coming to see the JP.
Make sure you have the actual Marriage Certificate and not simply the ‘Particulars of Marriage’.
Bring the written separation agreement if there is one.
Ensure that a ‘Service’ Affidavit associated with a One Party Application has not been served on a Sunday or Public Holiday.
Justices of the Peace in New Zealand are authorised under New Zealand legislation and usually cannot complete documents required by a foreign jurisdiction. There are exceptions however so check with the agency to see if it is acceptable to them for a New Zealand Justice of the Peace to complete the documentation.