Frequently asked questions
Why are Justices of the Peace (JPs) needed to handle legal matters?
Our society has become so complex; thousands of formal documents have to be signed each day and a host of legal procedures have to be carried out. For this to happen, we need a system that is quick, cheap, reliable and does not place a greater burden on legal practitioners and officers.
By dealing with routine matters, JPs free lawyers and the courts to concentrate on cases that require professional legal training.
Does this mean that Justice of the Peace are untrained?
No, but for many years there was no formal training. People were appointed as JPs because of their standing in the community. They were known as honest citizens who could be trusted to carry out their duties conscientiously.
However, laws were passed in 1991 to ensure that JPs have a basic understanding of the legal system.
At the same time, the JP system was reorganised into three new categories. JPs are now offered training so they can carry out the duties of the category they choose.
Why were new categories introduced?
The new categories allow JPs to choose the level of responsibility they wish to take on. Under the old system there was no choice. Although these JPs, sometimes known as ‘old style’ JPs, had a wide range of responsibilities, from witnessing signatures to constituting a court, most performed witnessing duties only. Very few were constituting courts.
‘Old style’ JPs have, since 30 June 2000, become JP (Cdecs) with the powers of a Commissioner for Declarations only. Solicitors and members of the judiciary who are also JPs were unaffected by this change.
Can anyone apply to become a Commissioner for Declarations or Justice of the Peace?
You can become a Commissioner of Declarations or Justice of the Peace as long as you are:
- an Australian citizen by birth, descent or grant
- at least 18 years old
- of good character
- registered on the state electoral roll.
More information about becoming a Justice of the Peace (Qualified) or Commissioner for Declarations.
Do I have to be a Cdec before seeking appointment as a JP(Qualified)?
No. All you have to do is pass the JP (Qualified) exam and take the completed application form with the two referee reports and a copy of your Statement of Attainment, to your local Queensland State Member of Parliament.
How will people know I am a Cdec or JP?
Our Justices of the Peace Branch has a range of badges of office available only to registered Cdecs and JPs, including badges, key rings, cuff links, letterbox signs and window stickers.
To place an order you can call us, fax us your order form, or order online from our JPs shop. Cash, cheques, money orders or credit card payment will be accepted (depending on your ordering method). Your registration will be checked before items are supplied.
If you are a JP and want to add your details to the database, fill in the Internet listing form and return it to us.
How will I keep in touch with the latest developments?
We regularly contact all JPs and Cdecs to keep you informed of changes to legislation and other relevant information. Updates and other new information are published regularly on the website.
We also hold professional development events around Queensland to provide information on changes to legislation and procedures affecting JPs and Cdecs.
Are Cdecs and JPs recognised for their service?
A system of awards for long service has been established to show appreciation for the years of dedicated community service that Cdecs and JPs provide.
If you have served for 25, 40, 50 or 60 years, you may be eligible for an award. To nominate, contact your local Queensland State Member of Parliament. Please provide a copy of your original registration certificate.