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The Difference Between a Justice of the Peace and a Notary Public

There are times when the duties of two distinctive positions overlap, or at least they appear to do so. Take the Justice of the Peace (JP) and the Notary Public (NP), for instance. People sometimes confuse the one for the other because they may have similar roles. So, to finally end the mix-up between the two, this article aims to state the chief differences between JP and NP.

Justice of the Peace

A JP is a volunteer whose main role is to witness documents that will be used for legal processes. These duties include:

  •         Attesting the accomplishment of a document
  •         Certifying the legitimacy of a copy of an original document
  •         Taking statutory affirmations and declarations
  •         Witnessing legal documents, like wills, affidavits, contracts, deeds, or powers of attorney
  •         Witnessing oaths
  •         Witnessing signatures

When you are required to sign a contract or make a statutory affirmation, or even when you need to make an official copy of a passport, you will need a JP to witness and certify them for you.

Notary Public

Likewise known as a Public Notary or Notary, an NP is a public officer who is sanctioned to certify or draft particular documents in overseas jurisdictions. They are appointed permanently by a Territory or State Supreme Court, giving them the authority to witness documents, administer oaths, as well as other administrative responsibilities either nationally or internationally. A Public Notary is also a practising attorney or solicitor.

An NP’s other functions are to:

  •         Certify a true copy of an original document, thereby recognising the copy as a legal document both locally and abroad
  •         Confirm and witness document executions
  •         Organise certificates of law in foreign jurisdictions
  •         Take and witness statutory declarations
  •         Validate the identity of an individual and witness their fingerprints and signature

Although the JP and NP may have similar roles, they are very much unlike the other. Take note of their dissimilarities below.

Notary public officers are practising lawyers, while JPs are volunteers who qualified for the position.

Lawyers can become JPs, provided that they qualify for it. They can also become NPs by completing the Notarial Practice Course and apply through the Legal Profession Admission Board.

Perhaps the major distinction between a Notary public and a Justice of the Peace is that the NP’s authorities can extend outside Australia, while the JP is only permitted to execute their duties locally. Essentially, a Public Notary officer is an international JP. Thus, any signatures and documents can only be valid in foreign countries if they are verified by the NP.

It is understandable that people may be confused and can’t tell the two roles apart because of their similar community functions, which is why it is best to be informed.

And while JPs are mere volunteers, they still need to qualify for the said position. In order to do so, they have to complete a JP course, which many online organisations are currently offering.

Usually only a two-day course, the 10276NAT Course in Providing Community Justice Services is a module that provides learners with all the skills and knowledge necessary for community responsibilities, including document witnessing and other minor judicial roles.

If you’re interested in becoming a Justice of Peace, enrol in the course today!


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