Peace Commissioner

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Peace Commissioner is an honorary position in Ireland with special powers to make statutory declarations and witness signatures on documents under various Acts of the Oireachtas.[1]

Role[edit]

The Courts of Justice Act 1924 gives Peace Commissioners the power to issue summons and warrants.[2] The title, first proposed as "Parish Commissioner", replaced Justice of the Peace, which was regarded as too reminiscent of British titles.[3]

Peace Commissioners are primarily used to issue summons and search warrants to the Gardaí (although their constitutionality has been challenged), witness signatures on documents, take statutory declarations and sign certificates and orders. However, they cannot sign and authenticate affidavits. A Peace Commissioner should not sign any document in which they have an "interest", meaning they should not sign documents for members of their own family or people with whom they work. This is to ensure that a Peace Commissioner remains an unbiased witness.

As of 2012, there were 5,733 Peace Commissioners operating throughout the country.[4][needs update]

Appointment[edit]

The Office of Peace Commissioner is a discretionary appointment by the Minister for Justice, a member of the Government.

There is no special application form. An application for appointment may be made by an individual on their own behalf, or a nomination for appointment may be made by a third party. Nominations are generally received from public representatives, and a Garda superintendent may sometimes request an appointment in their district as the need arises. Individuals seeking appointment to the Office of Peace Commissioner apply to the Minister for Justice with the reason for their application or nomination and provide some background information about the individual proposed for appointment.[5]

There is no qualifying examination, but appointees are required to be of good character[6] and are usually well-established in the local community. People convicted of serious offenses are considered unsuitable. Civil servants are generally appointed only when the performance of their official duties requires an appointment. Solicitors, people employed in legal offices, and members of the clergy are, as a matter of practice, not appointed because their occupation may cause a conflict of interest.[6] The fact that an applicant or nominee may be suitable for appointment does not, in itself, provide any entitlement to appointment because other factors, such as the need for appointments in particular areas, are considered.

Problems[edit]

The title of "Peace Commissioner" is recognized only in Ireland, and it is not recommended to have a Peace Commissioner sign documents for use outside of Ireland. Most Peace Commissioners do not have a rubber stamp containing their name and title. This causes many documents to be rejected because forms and agencies expect a rubber stamp.[citation needed] A stamp is not required by the Minister for Justice,[7] but, in practice, agencies often reject stamp-less documents.[citation needed] When booking a Peace Commissioner, it is advisable to ask if they have a rubber stamp. Most Commissioners for Oaths do have a stamp.[citation needed]

Register[edit]

The Department of Justice maintains a list of peace commissioners. However, this list is not available online. The Department will usually provide the name and address of a peace commissioner on request. Local Garda stations, which use the services of a Peace Commissioner in their daily duties, are usually in a position to provide the name and address of a Peace Commissioner in a particular area.[8]

Finding a notary public, a Commissioner for Oaths, or a solicitor is often easier.[citation needed] Solicitors and Commissioners for Oaths may witness statutory declarations and affidavits for a fee. Unlike Peace Commissioners, solicitors and Commissioners for Oaths are entitled to charge a fee for their work, giving them an incentive to advertise.

It is customary for Peace Commissioners to use the abbreviation PC after their name to make themselves known when requested by the Garda and members of the public to discharge their duties.

Costs and rates[edit]

The role of Peace Commissioner is an honorary one, and there is no financial compensation by way of fees or expenses for their services.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Courts of Justice Act 1924
  2. ^ "The Courts of Justice Act, 1924". Irishstatutebook.ie. 12 April 1924. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  3. ^ Davin, William (2 February 1923). "Dáil Éireann debate - Friday, 2 Feb 1923 - District Justices (Temporary Provisions) Bill. - Second Reading". Oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Dáil Éireann - 24/May/2012 Written Answers - Ministerial Appointments". Oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie. 24 May 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  5. ^ "The Department of Justice and Equality: Peace Commissioners". Justice.ie. Archived from the original on 19 November 2007.
  6. ^ a b "So you want to become a peace commissioner?". Sunday Business Post. 20 February 2005. Archived from the original on 2 November 2005.
  7. ^ Fitzgerald, Frances (7 March 2017). "Parliamentary Questions No. 106". Department of Justice. Archived from the original on 19 July 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  8. ^ a b Citizensinformation.ie. "Peace Commissioners". www.citizensinformation.ie. Retrieved 3 January 2023.