Justice of the Peace

Find out the functions of Justices of the Peace (JPs), their role and responsibilities, and the process for being appointed as a JP.

In New Zealand, JPs are involved in an ever-increasing multitude of matters including both Ministerial and Judicial duties.

Ministerial functions of a Justice of the Peace

Justices of the Peace have no inherent jurisdiction and may exercise only those powers given to them by legislation. Other duties of a Justice of the Peace include the:

  • witnessing of documents
  • taking of declarations
  • swearing of affidavits or affirming affirmations.

Functions of a Justice of the Peace in the District Court

A limited number of JPs undertake judicial duties within the District Court. Judicial JP functions include:

  • jurisdiction determined by statute, including minor offences and some traffic cases
  • issue of remands and bail
  • hearing of undefended cases
  • presiding over defended trials.

A newly appointed JP cannot exercise their jurisdiction until a District Court judge has sworn them into office. Prior to their swearing in, JPs are required to undertake an introduction training course provided by their local Justices of the Peace Association.

All JPs are expected to carry out the duties above under the Oaths and Declarations Act 1957, Criminal Procedure Act 2011 or by any other enactment under s4(b) Justices of the Peace Act 1957.

Find out more about JPs and their wider duties on the Royal Federation of NZ Justices’ Association website (external link)

Appointment of Justices of the Peace

Members of Parliament nominate people to be JPs. It is the responsibility of each electorate Member of Parliament to ensure that their electorate is adequately serviced by JPs. Nominations for a person to be appointed as a JP are accepted only from Members of Parliament. List Members may submit nominations in their own name but they will need to have the prior endorsement of the appropriate electorate Member. 

Find out more about the appointment of JPs on the Royal Federation of NZ Justices’ Association website (external link)

Download the Justice of the Peace nomination form [DOCX, 37 KB]

Best practice manual

This manual contains best practice guidelines for Justices of the Peace. It covers:

  • a national standard for the appointment of Justices of the Peace
  • a national standard complaints and dispute resolution process to support the legislative requirements of the Justices of the Peace Act 1957
  • formal recognition of the retirement of Justices of the Peace
  • a national standard for Justice of the Peace service desks in District Courts.

Read the Justice of the Peace best practice manual [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Download an interview template for Justice of the Peace Associations [DOCX, 17 KB]

Download an interview template for court representatives [DOCX, 15 KB]

Download the national standard for JP service desks in District Courts [DOCX, 25 KB]

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