I have been asked this question on many occasions. A witness certifies that they have identified a person and that person has made a solemn promise that the statements in a document are true to the best of their knowledge, this is referred to as taking an oath. The taking of an oath or a declaration of truth, may be made in two forms in New South Wales they are:
- by swearing, which is a declaration made by someone who believes in a higher power usually a member of a religion; or
- by affirmation should that person have no such belief.
In New South Wales oaths can be taken by JPs, legal practitioners (solicitors and barristers) and notary publics in accordance with the Oaths Act 1900 and certify that a copy of a document is a true and faithful copy.
Justices of the Peace
A Justice of the Peace (JP) is a volunteer, appointed by the governor of New South Wales whose primary role is to witness a person making a statutory declaration or an affidavit and to certify copies of original documents for use in Australia. JPs come from all sections of the community and available across New South Wales. JPs cannot charge for their service.
A legal practitioner is able to witness legal documents, statutory declarations and affidavits and certify copies of documents for use in Australia. A legal practitioner must meet the educational requirements and be admitted to the Supreme Court of New South Wales to practice as a legal practitioner. Such documents as personal guarantees, enduring power of attorneys and enduring requires a legal practitioner or notary public as a witness. Legal practitioners are able to charge for their services.
A notary public in New South Wales is a legal practitioner who is held to full practising license for a minimum of five years. They have passed the educational requirements that allow them to be admitted by the Supreme Court of New South Wales as a notary public. Notary publics can witness all documents and certify copies of documents for use in and outside of Australia. The Public Notaries Act 1997 includes a list of recommended fees.
As I am a notary public, if you or anyone you know is in a situation where witnessing or certifications are required and need further advice, please do not hesitate in contacting me.