As a Justice of the Peace (JP), 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 was initially made by the COVID-19 EMERGENCY RESPONSE (SECTION 16) (AFFIDAVITS) VARIATION REGULATIONS 2021 (ceased) and has now been continued by the Oaths Regulations 2021 and Code of Practice – Affidavits, made under the Oaths Act 1936 (SA) as amended by the Oaths (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2021, effective 1 December 2021.
This change to allow remote witnessing only applies to affidavits, and not to statutory declarations or other documents witnessed by JPs.
For the purposes of the Oaths Regulations and Code of Practice, 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.
Otherwise, the Oaths Regulations and Code of Practice maintain the existing requirements and procedures for taking affidavits, now set out in the Oaths Regulations and Code of Practice – Affidavits (PDF, 197.4 KB).
The South Australian Government has now permanently 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 for statutory declarations can be found in Schedule 1 of the Oaths Act 1936 (core witnesses) and the Oaths Regulations 2021 regulation 5 (expanded range of witnesses).
The Oaths Regulations 2021 and Code of Practice – Statutory Declarations continue existing requirements for taking statutory declarations. 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 Code of Practice – Statutory Declarations as well as the Justice of the Peace Handbook. See pages 19-21 for general information, and pages 60-64 for information specific to the taking of statutory declarations. See the Notice - JP Handbook for information about the new regulations and codes of practice.
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.