What is an Affidavit?
An affidavit is a legal document that sets out the facts of your case and tells the court that the information contained in the affidavit is 100% true and factual. A simple way to understand an affidavit is to think of it as the written version of a sworn testimony in court. In a courtroom, a witness would take the stand, place their hand on a bible and swear to tell the truth, with an affidavit you are doing this in writing. In both scenarios you are under oath, it just so happens that with an affidavit you are under oath on paper!
When is an affidavit necessary?
At certain times during the course of legal proceedings, from personal injury cases, property transactions to business transactions it becomes necessary for particular facts to be affirmed in a more positive way than merely being stated. This is when it becomes necessary to swear to something being true. This process is also referred to as swearing a document.
Who can swear a document?
Your own solicitor is prohibited from swearing your own document. In order to swear an affidavit, you must go to the Commissioner for Oaths or to practising solicitor. All practising solicitors have the power to swear a document. Your own solicitor will arrange for your document to be sworn. The reason for this is to ensure that by swearing the document by an independent party it shows that you are not being influenced by another person.
By swearing a document, the information contained in the document is seen to be considered in detail by the person making the statement. It is important to note that just like lying under oath on a witness stand it is also an offence to swear that the information in your affidavit/document is true when it is untrue. When you swear a document you then become known as the deponent.
What information does an affidavit include?
An affidavit must include the following information:
- The title of the case
- The identity of the person making the affidavit
- The occupation and address of the person making the affidavit
- Whether the witness is over 18, or their specific age if they are under 18.
- The information/evidence contained must be facts that the witness is able to prove of their own knowledge and must state how they came to acquire such knowledge.
- The affidavit must be signed and dated by the witness
- The affidavit must be a section where the Commissioner for Oaths can verify that the affidavit was properly sworn.
What is the process of swearing an affidavit?
The swearing of an affidavit involves the following actions:
- The person making the statement must swear the document in the presence of a practising solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths.
- The practising solicitor witnessing the swearing of the document must not be the solicitor acting for the person making the statement to ensure that they are independently swearing to the truth of the document.
- It is essential that the person making the statement has read and understood fully the statements contained in the document and believes them to be true.
- A person can object to swearing an oath on the bible if it is against their religious beliefs or if they have no religious belief can opt for an affirmation where they solemnly affirm the statements to be true
- A person making the statement will need to identify themselves to the practising solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths so it may be necessary to bring a passport or driver’s licence if you do not know the practising solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths or if they are not introduced to you by someone you know.
- It usually costs €10 for each signature of the practising solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths and a further €2 for every document.
What will my solicitor do with regards swearing of an affidavit?
If an affidavit is required you solicitor will run through the document with you before it is sworn. In doing so, they will ensure that you understand exactly what the document and statement say and mean. It is advisable to read the document again to ensure that it states exactly what you have told your solicitor before it is sworn.
Upon reading the document before it is sworn it is important that you ask any questions you might have regarding any legal references in the document, make sure that you ask your solicitor to explain before the document is sworn.