There have been recent occasions where banks have refused a witnessed certified document with the wording ‘appears to be a true copy’ rather requesting it state ‘is a true copy’.

Advice received from Department of Justice Training states: There is no legislation in WA which determines how to, or who can certify copies of documents. Generally it is accepted by custom that an ‘Authorised Person’ can certify a document as a copy.

The Information Fact sheet relating to Certifying Copies of Documents is proved as a guide which JPs can use, and in the majority of situations the wording “is a true copy” will not be questioned. Having said that there are some organisations who require a very specific wording to be used. Superannuation companies and banks appear to be those exceptions. There may even be differences between them. This underpins the need for a person certifying such a document, to carefully read the instructions to certifying person (if any). In the absence of any instruction, the onus is on the person presenting the document to the JP to ensure it is certified by the authorised person and using acceptable phrases. If a JP certifies such a document in good faith, in these circumstances there should be no comeback by the client on the JP. The organisation/entity receiving a document ultimately has sole discretion whether to accept the document or not.

To avoid having ‘certified copies’ return by disgruntled clients could we draw your attention to the possibility that some institutions have set policies in relation to required wording.