Victorian statutory declarations

Statutory declarations are used for many purposes (eg insurance claims). The declarant must sign the declaration in the presence of the witness and make a solemn declaration that it is true and correct. Knowingly making a false declaration renders the declarant liable to the penalties for perjury. A statutory declaration may only be made by a natural person.

Declarations for use in Victoria may be witnessed by:

a Justice of the Peace or a Bail Justice, a Notary Public, a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court, a clerk to a barrister and solicitor, the Prothonotary or a Deputy Prothonotary of the Supreme Court, the Registrar or a Deputy Registrar of the County Court, the Principal Registrar of the Magistrates’ Court, the Registrar or a Deputy Registrar of the Magistrates’ Court, the Registrar of Probates or an Assistant Registrar of Probates, the Associate to a Judge of the Supreme Court or of the County Court, the Secretary of a Master of the Supreme Court or of the County Court, a person registered as a Patent Attorney under Part XV of the Patents Act 1952 of the Commonwealth, a fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives (Victoria), a member of the police force, the Sheriff or a Deputy Sheriff, a member or former member of either House of the Parliament of Victoria, a member or former member of either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, a councillor of a municipality (or a Commissioner), a senior officer as defined in the Local Government Act 1989, a legally qualified medical practitioner, a dentist, a veterinary surgeon, a pharmacist, a principal in the teaching service, the manager of a bank, a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia or the Australian Society of Accountants or the National Institute of Accountants, the secretary of a building society, a minister of religion authorised to celebrate marriages, a person who holds an office in the public service (of Victoria) that is prescribed as an office of which the holder may witness statutory declarations (these are listed in the Evidence (Affidavits and Statutory Declarations) Regulations 1990 as amended).

It is important to note that not all these classes may witness federal documents or documents for use in other States.

A statutory declaration may be typed or handwritten. It should read as follows:

I [insert declarant’s full name] of [insert declarant’s street address] in the State of Victoria do solemnly and sincerely declare that

[insert required details]AND I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of an Act of the Parliament of Victoria rendering persons making a false declaration punishable for wilful and corrupt perjury.the declaration would be signed here and should only be signed in the presence of the authorised witnesswitness will complete the following section

Declared at this [date] day of [month] , 200X before me,

[the witness must write, type or stamp their name and address below their signature]

Victorian Affidavits

Affidavits are most commonly used in legal proceedings. They are made in writing and the person making the affidavit must take an oath or make an affirmation that they believe the contents are true and correct. An affidavit can only be made by a natural person.

Affidavits for use in Victoria may be witnessed by:

any Judge or the Associate of any Judge, a Master of the Supreme Court or of the County Court or the secretary of such a Master, a Justice of the Peace or a Bail Justice, the Prothonotary or a Deputy Prothonotary of the Supreme Court, the Registrar or a Deputy Registrar of the County Court, the Principal Registrar of the Magistrates’ Court, the Registrar or a Deputy Registrar of the Magistrates’ Court, the Registrar of Probates or an Assistant Registrar of Probates, a member or former member of either House of the Parliament of Victoria, a member or former member of either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, a Notary Public, any solicitor who holds a current practicing certificate under the Legal Profession Practice Act 1958, a member of the police force of or above the rank of sergeant or for the time being in charge of a police station, a person who holds an office in the public service (of Victoria) that is prescribed as an office of which the holder may receive affidavits (these are listed in the Evidence (Affidavits and Statutory Declarations) Regulations 1990 as amended), a senior officer of a council, a person registered as a Patent Attorney under Part XV of the Patents Act 1952 of the Commonwealth, a fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives (Victoria).

Affidavits for use in Victoria, but completed outside the State may be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace in another State or of any part of Her Majesty’s dominions (when taken in that place) or by Australian consular officers or certain diplomatic officers of any part of Her Majesty’s dominions.

Once completed and signed before the authorised witness, the person making the affidavit would normally hold the bible or the new or old testament or the Koran or other holy book in his or her uplifted hand and say words to the following effect – “I swear by almighty God that this is my name and handwriting, and that the contents of this my affidavit, are true and correct in every particular (and if there are exhibits), and these are the exhibits referred to therein.”

The witness must type, write or stamp their name and address below their signature.

An affirmation has the same legal effect as an affidavit, but is not taken on the bible and does not refer to God.

Statutory declarations & affidavits – Commonwealth

Statutory declarations

A person may, if he or she so desires, make a statutory declaration in relation to any matter, including in relation to a law of the Commonwealth or of a Territory (unless the contrary appears in that law) or in connection with a Commonwealth Department. It is an offence to wilfully make a false statement in a statutory declaration.

A statutory declaration may be made before:

a Magistrate, a Justice of the Peace, a Commissioner for Affidavits, a Commissioner for Declarations, a Notary Public, a person before whom a statutory declaration may be made under the law of the State in which the declaration is made, an Australian Consular Officer or an Australian Diplomatic Officer as defined by section two of the Consular Fees Act 1995, a chiropractor, a dentist, a legal practitioner, a medical practitioner, a nurse, a patent attorney, a pharmacist, a veterinary surgeon, an agent of the Australian Postal Corporation who is in charge of an office supplying postal services to the public, a bailiff, a bank officer with five or more years of continuous service, a building society officer with five or more years of continuous service, the chief executive officer of a Commonwealth court, a civil marriage celebrant, the clerk of a court, a credit union officer with five or more years of continuous service, the holder of a statutory office, the Judge of a court, the Master of a court, a member of the Australian Defence Force who is an officer or a non-commissioned officer within the meaning of the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 with five or more years continuous service or a warrant officer within the meaning of the Act, a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants or the National Institute of Accountants, a member of the Institute of Corporate Managers, Secretaries and Administrators, a member of the Institution of Engineers, Australia other than at the grade of student, a member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth, the Parliament of a State. a Territory legislature or a local government authority of a State or Territory, a minister of religion registered under Division 1 of Part IV of the Marriage Act 1961, a permanent employee of the Commonwealth or of a Commonwealth authority or a State or Territory or of a State or Territory authority or a local government authority with five or more years continuous service, a permanent employee of the Australian Postal Corporation with five or more years continuous service who is employed in an office supplying postal services to the public, a police officer, the Registrar or Deputy Registrar of a court, a Senior Executive Service officer of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory or of a Commonwealth, State or Territory authority, a Sheriff, a Sheriff’s officer, or a teacher employed on a full-time basis at a school or tertiary education institution.

The form for a Commonwealth statutory declaration is:

I [insert declarant’s name, address and occupation], do solemnly and sincerely declare [insert matter being declared]I make this solemn declaration by virtue of the Statutory Declarations Act 1959 as amended and subject to the penalties provided by that Act for the making of false statements in statutory declarations, conscientiously believing the statements contained in this declaration to be true in every particular.

[the declaration should be signed here (by a natural person in their name) in the presence of the witness][the witness will complete the following section]Declared at [place] on [date] 19 , before me,[the witness should complete their name, qualification and address]

Affidavits

Affidavits for use in an Australian court exercising federal jurisdiction may be sworn before any justice of the peace, notary public or lawyer. Depending on the purpose of the affidavit, a number of other classes of person may also be able to witness affidavits. In Family Court matters, for example, the list of suitable witnesses differs from state to state.

Persons Who Can Witness Statutory Declarations

  •  A Justice of the Peace or a Bail Justice
  • A Notary Public
  • A barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court
  • A clerk to a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court [barristers’ clerk
  • The Prothonotary or a Deputy Prothonotary of the Supreme Court, the Registrar or a Deputy Registrar of the County Court, the Principal Registrar of the Magistrates’ Court or a Registrar or Deputy Registrar of the Magistrates’ Court
  • The Registrar of Probates or an Assistant Registrar of Probates
  • The Associate to a Judge of the Supreme Court or of the County Court
  • The Secretary of a Master of the Supreme Court or of the County Court
  • A person registered as a Patent Attorney under Part XV of the Patents Act 1952 of the Commonwealth
  • A member of the police force
  • The sheriff or a deputy sheriff
  • A member or a former member of either House of the Parliament of Victoria
  • A member or a former member of either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth
  • A councillor of a municipality
  • A senior officer of a Council as defined in the Local Government Act 1989
  • A registered medical practitioner within the meaning of the Medical Practice Act 1994
  • A dentist – A veterinary practitioner
  • A pharmacist
  • A principal in the [government] teaching service
  • The [branch] manager of a bank
  • A member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia or the Australian Society of Accountants or the National Institute of Accountants
  • The secretary of a building society
  • A minister of religion authorised to celebrate marriages [not a civil celebrant]
  • A person employed under Part 3 of the Public Sector Management and Employment Act 1998 with a classification that is prescribed as a classification for statutory declarations or who holds office in a statutory authority with such a classification
  • a fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives (Victoria)

Justice of the Peace Appointments

The application process is currently under review by the Department of Justice. Please refer to the DoJ website for further information.

What is the procedure to apply to become a JP?

The primary role of a Justice of the Peace in Victoria is to witness Statutory Declarations and receive Affidavits as a voluntary service to the wider community. Any business requirements or work-related needs for signing documents are secondary considerations to local community needs.

To ensure that the office of Justice of the Peace continues to be held in high esteem in the community, the appointment criteria require applicants to:

(i) show details of their past and present voluntary involvement in the general community, and

(ii) demonstrate a need for additional appointments in their locality.

Applicants will also need to obtain three nominations. These nominations may comprise of community-based organisations and/or individuals of good character and standing in the community.

Examples of some community-based organisations could include school councils, service clubs, sporting bodies, charities and the like. Examples of individuals could include people like MPs, JPs, councillors, doctors, lawyers and other prominent persons.

Applicants should also be permanent residents of Victoria, unless exceptional circumstances exist.

The position of Commissioner for taking Affidavits was abolished by the Magistrates’ Court Act in 1990. This Act also introduced a number of new categories of persons who are authorised to witness documents in Victoria in addition to Justices of the Peace, such as pharmacists, police officers, doctors, and various other professions. In view of this change, the need for additional appointments has diminished in many localities.

Applications will be considered by the JP Assessment Panel that will make recommendations to the Attorney-General. Prior to this, all applicants will be interviewed by police and subject to a check of police records, as part of the assessment process. This procedure can take many months to complete. Applicants will then be notified in writing of the outcome of their application.

Once the application and nomination forms are completed, they may be either forwarded to this Registry at the address below, or submitted through your local State Member of Parliament, who will forward them to the Attorney-General.

Interstate applicant

There is no transfer of JP appointments from one State or Territory to another, although any past community service interstate can be taken into account.

Justices of the Peace who were appointed interstate, but now permanently live in Victoria are able to apply for an appointment in this State in the same manner as other persons.

The functions and duties of Justices of the Peace may vary according the State or Territory of their appointment. In some States, for example, JPs conduct bail hearings and sit in Magistrates’ Court hearings. In Victoria, the main function of JPs is to witness documents.

Justices of the Peace in this State are appointed to serve the Victorian community. They are required to resign their appointment if they leave the State permanently or if they are absent for an extended period, but may reapply for appointment on their return. This does not apply to short trips or holidays, provided that this Registry is notified of the dates of departure and return.

In some States, applicants must sit exams before applying. In Victoria, short training courses are conducted by the Royal Victorian Association of Honorary Justices, on behalf of the Department of Justice. These courses are available after appointments are made.