As a Justice of the Peace, you frequently meet and are in close contact with members of the community. In line with recent COVID-19 developments, please do not continue to provide JP services to the community if you are unwell.
If you believe you fall into a risk category, we recommend ceasing your JP duties until health authorities advise a reduced threat from the virus in the community. For more information, contact the Coronavirus Health Information line on 1800 020 080 or visit the SA Health website.
The South Australian Government has made regulations to allow, from 14 October 2021, affidavits to be witnessed remotely over audio-visual link. This change is made by the COVID-19 EMERGENCY RESPONSE (SECTION 16) (AFFIDAVITS) VARIATION REGULATIONS 2021
This change to allow remote witnessing only applies to affidavits, and not to statutory declarations or other documents witnessed by Justices of the Peace.
For the purposes of these regulations, the remote meeting between an authorised affidavit-taker and a deponent of an affidavit by audio visual link must be conducted so that the authorised person and the deponent are visible to each other and can hear each other while the deponent swears or affirms the contents of the affidavit and signs the affidavit.
The authorised person must:
- observe the deponent signing the affidavit in real time;
- attest or otherwise confirm that the affidavit was sworn or affirmed by the deponent, and the deponent's signature on the affidavit was witnessed, by signing the affidavit or a copy of the affidavit;
- be reasonably satisfied the affidavit the authorised person signs is the same affidavit, or a copy of the affidavit, sworn or affirmed and signed by the deponent; and
- endorse the affidavit, or the copy of the affidavit, with a statement specifying:
- the method used to witness the swearing or affirming and signing of the affidavit by the deponent; and
- that the requirements of these regulations were complied with in relation to the taking of the affidavit.
The deponent may send a copy of the signed affidavit electronically to the authorised person, who should then sign and endorse the affidavit as soon as practicable after witnessing the signing of the affidavit.
The South Australian Government has now expanded the criteria for people available to witness statutory declarations to make it easier for people to access these services, including:
- government employees
- religious ministers
- medical professionals
- bank officers.
A full list of people who can now act as authorised witnesses can be found in the COVID-19 Emergency (Section 16) Regulations 2020.
This only applies statutory declarations. It doesn't make any alteration to the persons or class of persons who may take Affidavits or witness the execution of Enduring Powers of Attorney.
The regulations don't amend in any way the manner in which statutory declarations are to be taken. Statutory declarations must be taken in accordance with the Oaths Act 1936 in the following form:
I, [insert name of declarant] do solemnly and sincerely declare that [content of declaration]. And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the provisions of the Oaths Act 1936.
You can find practical information on witnessing documents and taking statutory declarations in the Justice of the Peace Handbook (PDF 1.6MB). See pages 19-21 for general information, and pages 60-64 for information specific to the taking of statutory declarations.
When signing the statutory declaration authorised witnesses should indicate on the form which category of authorised witness they fall into.
[Signature of witness]
John Citizen, health practitioner.
If a witness falls into more than one category (e.g. Justice of the Peace and religious minister) only one category needs to be specified.
Anyone witnessing statutory declarations should adhere to social distancing measures.
These amendments are temporary. The regulations will cease to operate when section 16 of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act 2020 expires.