Government Clarifies Statutory Declarations

  • Maurice Williamson

Post Shop managers are no longer able to take statutory declarations on behalf of members of the public, the Ministers of Communications and State Owned Enterprises said today.

The legal authority for Post Shop managers to take statutory declarations was removed in the Postal Services Act, which came into effect on April 1st 1998.

"However, NZ Post has advised the Government that it was not aware of the removal of this authority and continued to take statutory declarations in good faith after April 1st. NZ Post has instructed its Post Shop managers not to take anymore declarations from today onwards," the Ministers said.

"Members of the public who have had statutory declarations signed or witnessed by Post Shop managers since April 1st should not, however, be unduly concerned.

"The Government is seeking Crown Law advice on the validity of declarations signed or witnessed by Post Shop managers since April 1st. If this advice indicates that there is some question about the validity of the documents, then the Government will take steps to protect the legal position of members of the public and Post Shop managers who have acted in good faith. This could include legislation if necessary."

The statutory declaration authority was removed as part of the deregulation of the letters market. With the introduction of full competition in the postal sector, it was no longer appropriate for NZ Post to have the advantage of providing a service that was not available from other postal operators.

Similarly, Post Bank managers lost the authority to take statutory declarations in 1996.

The Ministers pointed out that there were many alternatives available for those who needed to have statutory declarations signed or witnessed.

"About 177 Post Shop managers had this authority. However, there are many alternatives for the public. We understand that there are over 10,000 people nation-wide, particularly Justices of the Peace and solicitors, who are able to take statutory declarations," the Ministers said.

Justices of the Peace are listed in the Yellow Pages. They do not charge for any of their services.