Legal Services and Assistance
Justice and Community Safety Directorate
JPs in the ACT serve the community primarily by:
- administering oaths or affidavits and taking statutory declarations and affirmations;
- witnessing signatures; and
- attesting and certifying documents.
The role of an ACT JP is limited to functions in the ACT and while the JP is physically present in the ACT.
The Justice and Community Safety Directorate provides an online JP search facility on their website.
The ACT Law Society:
- represents, advances, and defends the interests of the independent legal profession in the ACT;
- protects the public interest in the ACT system of justice through regulation of the profession in accordance with the Legal Profession Act and the Society's Rules for Solicitors;
- handles complaints about conduct within the legal profession and prosecutes disciplinary matters;
- provides advice to the public through the Legal Advice Bureau;
- provides assistance to eligible applicants through the ACT Pro Bono Clearing House; and
- participate in the development and implementation of an Emergency Legal Help Plan which would be activated in the event of a disaster (such as the 2003 bushfires).
ACT Legal Aid Commission
Legal Aid ACT ensures that vulnerable and disadvantaged people receive the legal services they need to assert or defend their rights. It provides information and free legal advice about criminal, family and many civil law matters. Legal Aid ACT also provides grants of assistance for legal representation, subject to a means and merit test.
A notary public is a public officer, usually a practising solicitor or attorney, who is appointed for life by a State or Territory Supreme Court and given statutory powers to witness documents, administer oaths, and perform other wide-ranging administrative functions of a national and international nature. Their principal services are:
- Attestation of documents and certification of their due execution for use in Australia and internationally;
- Preparation and certification of powers of attorney, wills, deeds, contracts and other legal documents of a similar nature for use in Australia and internationally;
- Administering of oaths for use in Australia and internationally;
- Witnessing affidavits, statutory declarations and other documents for use in Australia and internationally;
- Certification of copy documents for use Australia and internationally;
- Exemplification of official documents for use internationally;
- Noting and protesting of bills of exchange;
- Preparation of ships' protests; and
- Providing certificates as to Australian law and legal practice.
Public Trustee and Guardian
- will-making (where the Public Trustee is appointed executor);
- administering deceased estates under will or in intestacy;
- asset services under Enduring Power of Attorney;
- trustee for trusts created in Wills, Deeds and Court Orders for families, infants and people with disabilities;
- acting as agent for the Territory to receive, manage and dispose of assets forfeited under the Confiscation of Criminal Assets Act 2003;
- administer moneys declared unclaimed under the Unclaimed Money Act 1950, Legal Practitioners Act 2006 andAgents Act 2003, including receiving moneys, processing claims and investing funds;
- investing moneys held in specified government trust funds;
- acting for people with disabilities where ordered by a Court;
- providing an annual examination of the accounts maintained by external managers on behalf of people with impaired decision-making ability; and
- act as administrator for the ACT Official Visitor Scheme and Chair the Official Visitors Board.
Tenants' Union of the ACT provide advice and legal assistance through the Tenants' Advice Service, information on tenants' rights and responsibilities, and conduct community education on tenancy issues.
Women’s Legal Centre
The Women’s Legal Centre (ACT & Region) is a safe contact point for women that provide legal assistance to women who would otherwise go without. The Centre also:
- Refers women to sympathetic lawyers and other support services;
- Runs community legal education sessions;
- Produces information for women about their rights, the legal system and the law; and
- Conducts research, law reform and lobbying activities regarding women’s interests.
The Youth Law Centre ACT provides a free legal and referral service for people aged 12-25 years in Canberra who are in need of assistance or information about legal matters such as problems at school, fines, employment, income support, debt, discrimination, housing and legal rights and responsibilities. Advice is available in person, over the phone or by email.