17.1 General guidelines
It is important to be aware of and sensitive to the culture and language of people who ask you to perform JP duties. Misunderstandings are very common between people of different cultures and are often due to factors other than language barriers, such as differences in communication style and relationships to authority figures. It is advisable to take extra care in checking for understanding and be very wary of making assumptions.
Try to negotiate through differences, rather than ignoring them. Never make assumptions about a person’s understanding of English based on linguistic or cultural background. People may sometimes wish to give you the impression that their understanding of English is sufficient when it is not.
Documents written in a language other than English generally cannot be used for legal purposes in Victoria unless they include the following attachments:
- an English translation
- an affidavit by the translator stating that the translation is an accurate translation of the document in the original language.
You may certify copies of documents written in a language other than English if you are sure that the document is a true copy. It is a good practice where possible, to have the originals photocopied in your presence to ensure they are the correct copies.
17.2 Witnessing English-language documents for a non-English speaking person
To witness English-language documents for a non-English speaking person, you must be satisfied that the person understands the nature and effect of what they are signing. If you cannot communicate in their language, you may need to arrange another appointment and ask the person to attend with an interpreter.
The Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) provides interpreter services. There is usually a fee, although some services are free. The fee should be paid by the non-English speaking person. There is no prohibition against using family members or friends as interpreters, but it is preferable to use professional interpreters if they are available.
JPs who speak other languages can be found through the online JP Register at www.justice.vic.gov.au by searching 'Language'.
17.3 Witnessing through an interpreter
For documents other than affidavits
- Ask the interpreter to translate orally to the person the contents of the document; and
- Interpret everything you say to the person and everything the person says to you.
Ask the interpreter to certify on the document using words such as these:
I certify that I have orally translated the document from the English language into [language of the person] to the best of my skills and ability.
[Signature of interpreter][Printed name of interpreter]
The steps you must follow when an interpreter is used to translate an affidavit are as follows:
- To begin, the interpreter takes an interpreters’ oath or makes an affirmation. The words that may be used are:
|I swear by almighty God (or the interpreter may name a god recognised by the persons religion) that I will well and truly interpret the contents of this affidavit, the oath/affirmation about to be administered to the deponent and all other things that may be required of me, to the best of my skill and ability.
|I solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that I will well and truly interpret the contents of this affidavit, the oath/affirmation about to be administered to deponent and all other things that may be required of me, to the best of my skill and ability.
- The interpreter interprets the contents of the affidavit to the deponent;
- The deponent signs the document in your presence (including signing or initialling alterations, signing each page and signing the certificates on the exhibits).
- You administer the oath or affirmation and the interpreter interprets it into the language of the deponent. The deponent repeats the oath in the deponent’s language and the interpreter translates what the deponent says into English.
- You sign and stamp a modified form of jurat:
Sworn/Affirmed at [place]
in the State of Victoria,
this _____ day of __________ 20__
[signature of person swearing or affirming the affidavit contents]
through the interpretation of [name of interpreter],
the interpreter having first sworn/affirmed that they would well and truly interpret the contents of this affidavit and the oath/affirmation that was administered to the deponent.
before me ____________________ [your signature][Name, Address and Title of witness (JP stamp)]