There should be compulsory registration of Justices of the Peace in the association for JPs

Dear Editor,

The registration of all Justices of the Peace (JPs) and Commissioners of Oaths to Affidavits (COAs) with the Guyana Justices of the Peace and Commissioners of Oaths to Affidavits Association should be made mandatory by the Office of the President in order to ensure the regularization, monitoring and sanctioning of all JPs and COAs.

Yes, there are problems with regard to the functioning and performance of JPs and COAs around the country. In the past, most JPs and COAs were allowed a free rein and operated according to their own whims and fancies. This has resulted in complaints and adverse comments to the media by aggrieved clients.

JPs and COAs should be aware of what matters they can handle and refer all other issues outside of their jurisdiction to the competent authorities, eg, lawyers or public trustees.

Recently, it was brought to our attention by the Chapter in Essequibo that an individual was practising as a JP and COA and had rubber stamps, letterheads and calling cards, but had no permission, commission or instrument from officialdom. This demonstrates how unregulated the JPs and COAs are.

In the past, persons were accorded Associate Membership of the association by the then President, and they continue to use this supposed authority to function as full-fledged JPs and COAs to this day. There are also some persons who because they are related to JPs and COAs or have been associated with them over the years, have continued to carry on the business even though the actual JP or COA has died or migrated. This is another example of how persons continue to misuse the system.

The antiquated laws and regulations relating to JPs and COAs must be revised to reflect the reality of the present. In order to prevent any ambiguity about fees, a revised act should stipulate the fees to be charged for services, just as many other countries in the Caribbean as well as further afield do.

The Justices of the Peace Act, Chapter 3:05 Section 16 states, “In the month of January in every year there shall be published in the Gazette a list of all Justices of the Peace for the time being holding office and in the list there shall be stated the profession, occupation, or calling, and the place of residence, of each justice.” By instituting compulsory registration with the association, we can assist the authorities in preparing and compiling a list of all JPs and COAs in all the 10 administrative regions. It should be noted also, that all police stations, outposts and post offices should have a list of all practising JPs and COAs in their respective districts.

Taking into consideration the foregoing points, we find it necessary to insist that there be compulsory registration of all JPs and COAs in the association which will definitely benefit the general public by improving and enhancing the quality of service offered.

Yours faithfully,
Hermon Bholaisingh
President
Guyana Justices of the
Peace and Commissioners
of Oaths to Affidavits Association

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