Who can witness a statutory declaration? Before we answer this question, let’s first understand what a statutory declaration means. Essentially, this is a written statement of facts that a person writes and declares to be true after signing. The party must sign and thereby declare the statement to be true in the presence of a witness.
You may have to use a statutory declaration for a variety of reasons, such as:
- confirming personal details or change of name;
- verifying insurance claims;
- financial or health matters;
- employee’s evidence for sick leave.
So, who can witness a statutory declaration? In Australia, a person who is authorised by law to witness documents can witness statutory declarations. This includes a:
- Justice of the Peace (JP)
- Notary public
- Police officer of the rank of sergeant or above
- Registered medical practitioner
- Member of the Australian Defence Force who is an officer
- Permanent employee of the Australian Postal Corporation with two or more years of continuous service who is employed in an office supplying postal services to the public.
It’s important to note that the person witnessing the statutory declaration must not have any personal interest in the matter being declared and must be satisfied that the person making the declaration understands the content and implications of the document.
The Relevant Laws for Statutory Declarations in Australia
The answer to ‘who can witness a statutory declaration’ may vary depending on the purpose of the statement and the legal matter it relates to. Depending on the purpose of the statement, you may have to follow either state, territory (local government authority) or Commonwealth laws.
This means that the requirement may further vary, and the people who can witness a statutory declaration form may differ. Given below is table demonstrating which laws and legislation (Commonwealth, state and territory laws) are relevant for this matter:
|Commonwealth & Australian Capital Territory
|Statutory Declarations Act (1959)
|Oaths and Affirmations Act (2018)
|New South Wales
|Oaths Act (1900)
|Oaths Act (1936)
|Oaths Act (2001)
|Statutory Declarations Act (1959)
|Oaths Affidavits and Declarations Act (2010)
|Oaths Act (1867)
Who Can Witness a Statutory Declaration? Notary Public versus Justice of the Peace
The primary distinction is that documents certified by a Notary Public can be acknowledged and approved outside of Australia, while documents validated by a Justice of the Peace are only recognised within the country.
Additionally, while JP services are offered free of charge, Notary Public services come with recommended fees that vary by state or territory. To learn more about the suggested fees for notary services in NSW, please visit the Society of Notaries of NSW website here.
Who Can Witness a Statutory Declaration? Differences Between States
Firstly, under Commonwealth laws, the following people can witness a statutory declaration:
- Australian diplomatic officer;
- bank officer with more than five years of experience;
- chief executive of a Federal Court;
- Judge or Magistrate of a court; and
New South Wales
In order to make a declaration within New South Wales, it is mandatory to have an authorised witness who is either a justice of the peace or a lawyer.
However, if you are making the declaration outside of the state, you may do so before a notary public or any other person who is authorised to administer an oath in the particular country or state where the statutory declaration is being made.
Queensland & Victoria
In Queensland and Victoria, there is a designated group of individuals who can witness statutory declarations. The commonly accepted list includes a Justice of the Peace, police officer, court registrar, Judge or Magistrate, legal practitioner, bank manager, medical practitioner, optometrist, and dentist.
In Tasmania, to ensure the legal validity of a Statutory Declaration, it is necessary to sign it in the presence of a Justice of the Peace or Commissioner for Declarations.
South Australia & Western Australia
The South Australia Attorney-General’s Department website provides a comprehensive list of witnesses in South Australia, and a similar list can be accessed on the Western Australian Government website as well. For instance, the list of witnesses includes government employees, lawyers, registered health practitioners, engineers, and accountants.
In the Northern Territory, witnessing a statutory declaration has comparatively lenient requirements. To be specific, any individual who is 18 years of age or older is eligible to witness a statutory declaration.
Importance of Seeking Advice
It is important to note that you cannot witness your own statutory declaration. Moreover, retired professionals cannot witness such statements. They have to be actively working in the field to be authorised witnesses.
How can JB Solicitors help with statutory declarations? Our lawyers can assist with statutory declarations in various ways, including:
- Witnessing: As authorised witnesses, our lawyers can witness statutory declarations and certify the identity of the declarant.
- Drafting: We can assist in drafting the statutory declaration to ensure that it is legally valid and contains all the necessary information.
- Certification: Our solicitors can certify copies of original documents that may need to be attached to the statutory declaration.
- Legal advice: We can provide legal advice to the declarant regarding the content of the statutory declaration and its legal implications.
- Representation: In case of any legal disputes or issues related to the statutory declaration, we can represent the declarant in court or before relevant authorities.
For more information on Commonwealth statutory declaration, do not hesitate to speak with our friendly and experienced lawyers today. Contact us here.