New Act strengthens role of honorary justices

The new Honorary Justices Act 2014 takes effect today, for the first time consolidating the law relating to Bail Justices and Justices of the Peace into a single Act.

Attorney-General, Robert Clark, said the new Act strengthens the standing, community recognition and independence of the state’s honorary justices.

“The former Labor government undermined and weakened the standing of honorary justices in the community, at one stage even contemplating abolishing JPs altogether,” Mr Clark said.

“In contrast, the Coalition committed to restore the standing and independence of honorary justices and to better support the invaluable work they do.  

“The new Act that comes into force today delivers on that commitment. It gives statutory recognition, backing and protection to the role and work of honorary justices.

“Since being elected, the Victorian Coalition Government has worked with honorary justice associations and groups and with individual Bail Justices and Justices of the Peace to develop this Honorary Justices Act, and it is very pleasing to see it come into operation today.”

Key features of the new Act include:

  • legislative protections against arbitrary dismissal;
  • allowing bail justices to be appointed up to the age of 70 and re-appointed until the age of 75;
  • a requirement for all persons who accept appointment as an honorary justice to make themselves available on a reasonable basis to perform their duties; 
  • all honorary justice appointments being made by the Governor in Council;
  • the right for long-serving honorary justices to use the title ‘JP (Retired)’ or ‘BJ (Retired)’ after ceasing active service.

Bail Justices conduct hearings of applications for bail or remand and applications for interim accommodation orders relating to children, mostly outside business hours.

Justices of the Peace provide document witnessing services across Victoria, including at approximately 64 signing stations located in police stations, community houses and Justice Services Centres. JPs witness several million documents each year and free up valuable police time to focus on protecting the community.

“The Napthine Government expresses its gratitude to all Bail Justices and Justices of the Peace around Victoria for the invaluable roles they undertake on behalf of the community,” Mr Clark said.