Justices of peace busier than ever

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A lack of awareness about how to find a justice of the peace and an increase in workload are concerns for the North Otago Justice of the Peace Association.
A justice of the peace (JP) can be called on by members of the public to witness a signature on a document, certify copies of documents and complete affidavits, declarations and affirmations.
After a recent meeting of the JP association, Oamaru JP Peter Bond said the 50-plus members were concerned people were struggling to find Justices of the Peace, despite many tools available to find them.
“In general terms, the fact is people are often unaware of how to get in touch with a JP.”He said a clinic was held for people who required services at the Work and Income building between 11am and 1pm on Tuesdays and a list of JPs could be found in the Yellow Pages.
The Oamaru branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau, where Mr Bond is a volunteer, fields frequent calls on the subject.
However, Mr Bond said the easiest way for people to find their local justice of the peace was online.
“The easy way, and I don’t know why a lot of people don’t do it, is to Google a JP. You just go to the Royal Federation of New Zealand Justices’ Association website, put in an area and there’s a complete list.”A justice of the peace can be found in virtually all of North Otago’s rural areas.
Mr Bond believes JP services are now in demand more than ever, for several reasons.
“A concern is that what seems to be happening is when you are applying for something, you’re required to have a document certified. If you’re going to university, you need to have certified copies of qualifications and when you apply for jobs.
“Places, especially insurance companies, seem to ask for certified copies more often. Photocopies don’t seem to be good enough. “There seems to be an almost paranoid fear of fraud. I think all of the good people are suffering because of the minority.”Documents dealt with locally included those required for Kiwisaver and the certification of drivers’ licences for insurance claims.
He said the loss of court registrar services in Oamaru in 2013, had contributed to the workload.
“I think it would be fair to say, when the courthouse was open, we used to do a lot of certified documents. But since it’s closed, the JPs have had an increase in their workload.” A justice of the peace is appointed to provide services free of charge in New Zealand, unlike in other countries, where services must be paid for.

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