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The department remains committed to providing support to Justices of the Peace (JPs) and people who require JP services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For your health and safety, we encourage you to follow and stay up-to-date with the latest advice from NSW Health.

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Practicing Justices of the Peace

Please do not provide JP services if you feel unwell, or you are self-isolating or under quarantine. It is not unreasonable to refuse to provide JP services if you or your family’s health is at risk.

Even if you are feeling well, it is important to take steps to reduce the spread of the virus when providing JP services.

When you receive a call to make an appointment, ask if the person:

  • has been overseas in the last 14 days
  • has been identified as a close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19
  • is unwell with a fever
  • has an acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough or sore throat) with or without a fever.

If the answer is yes, ask them to delay or schedule their appointment as soon as possible after the 14 day self-isolation period.

When you meet someone for an appointment, simple steps you can take to prevent the spread of germs are:

  • Clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitiser.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or use your elbow, not your hands.
  • Avoid touching your face and shaking hands with visitors.
  • Make sure hand sanitiser and/or soap is available and encourage visitors to use it.
  • Wipe down surfaces and devices (mobile phone, keyboard, mouse, pens, JP stamp, etc) before and after visits.
  • Try to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from visitors as much as possible while reviewing their paperwork.
  • Try to limit contamination of documents by using hand sanitiser before and after handling documents, as much as possible.

As an added precaution, you can minimise the risk of being infected with coronavirus by wearing gloves and using hand sanitiser before and after wearing gloves.

If you are inviting a visitor to your home or office, regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces (such as desks, tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs) and increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning.

Visits to your house should be kept to a minimum, with no more than one guest unless it is necessary for another person to be there. If you are an older person (aged 60 years and over) or someone who is at-risk, you should consider limiting physical contact with other people. You may like to limit your visitors to one or two people per day, and limit the duration of visits.

You can also consider holding appointments outside in the open air. This will help protect you and help stop the spread of disease.


Witnessing documents remotely: new regulations

To reduce face-to-face contact during the COVID-19 pandemic, the NSW Government has introduced new regulations to temporarily enable legal documents to be witnessed remotely by authorised witnesses, including NSW Justices of the Peace (JPs).

The changes have been introduced under Section 17 of the Electronic Transactions Act. This temporary regulation will expire on 26 September 2020, unless this date is changed by further regulation or resolution of Parliament.

What do the changes mean?

  • NSW JPs are now authorised to witness statutory declarations and affidavits in real time via audio visual link (AVL). However, electronic signatures will not be permitted.
  • All tasks associated with witnessing can be satisfied via AVL. For example, confirming the identity of the declarant and that they have understood the document, may be done via AVL.
  • These changes are not mandatory – JPs can continue to provide services in person, provided they comply with NSW public health orders and social distancing guidelines.

How will witnessing via AVL work?

  • The JP must see the declarant signing the document in real time.
  • A hard copy of the document can be signed, then scanned and emailed.
  • The JP should sign the document as soon as practicable after witnessing the signing of the document.
  • The JP must endorse the document with a statement that specifies the method used to witness the signature and that it was witnessed in accordance with the new regulation. For example, ‘This document was signed in counterpart and witnessed over audio visual link in accordance with clause 2 of Schedule 1 to the Electronic Transactions Regulation 2017.’
  • In line with current practices, if a JP cannot view a document clearly or is unable to confirm the declarant’s identity, they should decline to witness the document.

For more information on these changes, please see the Witnessing legal documents remotely factsheet or email jp@justice.nsw.gov.au.


Reappointment

If you do not have a computer and need to apply for reappointment online, you can still visit Service NSW for help. Service NSW centres remain open but have modified opening hours. Look up the opening hours before you go.


Changes to JP services

Justices of the Peace are still serving the NSW community, however services are changing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A number of scheduled JP services are no longer operational. This may include services at your local council, court, library, chemist, post office or police station.

If you need Justice of the Peace services, please call ahead to the JP or scheduled JP service desk before you visit. Please contact JPs at a reasonable time (between 8am and 6pm) and ask the JP when and where they are available.

You can still find a JP using the online JP Public Register or the scheduled services list on the Justice of the Peace website.

It is not unreasonable for JPs to refuse to provide their services if their health is at-risk or they are unwell.


Steps to take when visiting a JP

Please do not visit a Justice of the Peace if you feel unwell, or you are self-isolating or under quarantine.

Even if you are feeling well, it is important to take steps to reduce the spread of the virus. Steps you can take are:

  • Clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand rub/sanitiser.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing and sneezing or use your elbow, not your hands.
  • Avoid touching your face and shaking hands with the JP.
  • Avoid frequently touched surfaces such as tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs.
  • Try to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from the JP as much as possible while they are reviewing your paperwork.
  • Try to limit contamination of documents by using hand sanitiser before and after handling documents, as much as possible.

More information

In response to COVID-19, the JP Infoline is no longer available.

To contact the Appointments and Applications team, please email jp@justice.nsw.gov.au. A member of the team will contact you within 3 business days.

If you have an urgent enquiry, you can call 02 8688 7336. Please only call between 10am-12 noon and 2pm-4pm, Monday to Friday.

You can also continue to refer to the Justice of the Peace website.

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Last updated: 24 Apr 2020