NSW JUSTICES of the Peace (JPs) will soon to be subject to a new code of conduct which covers areas such as confidentiality of information, the witnessing of documents and the impartial provision of services.
The code, which will come into effect on 1 August, has been designed to clearly clarify what is acceptable behaviour for JPs.
“[It] will clarify standards for JPs who are uncertain of their obligations, but will also be useful to members of the public who may be unsure of what to expect when seeking the services of a JP,” NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos explained.
The code prohibits JPs revealing confidential information, charging or accepting fees or gifts for services and engaging in dishonest conduct. It also requires JPs to inform the Attorney-General’s department if they are convicted of a criminal offence, are bankrupt, or have been disqualified from being involved in the management of a company.
It also obligates JPs to not unreasonably refuse to provide services, to be familiar with and follow procedures and to declare any personal, family, financial or business interest in any matter that comes before them.
According to Hatzistergos, over the past two years 22 JPs have lost office due to illegal behaviour, dishonest conduct or bankruptcy. In addition, since the beginning of the year about 90 JPs have received a warning for not following correct procedures.
A copy of the code has been sent to all of NSW’s 85,000 JPs.