25 October 2017
By Bryan Smyth
This week as part of our local business series I spoke with the Cork’s well known Commissioner for Oaths David O’Sullivan. I asked him what is the difference between a ‘Statutory Declaration’ and an ‘Affidavit’?
“Often times people needing the services of a Commissioner for Oaths will say they ‘just need a signature’, but a Commissioner for Oaths does more than that. The Commissioner 1) Confirms the ID of the signer 2) Ensures that the location and date where the document is signed is recorded in the concluding words and 3) Administers the verbal oath or declaration to the signer, there may be other tasks, but in essence these are the key points.
What is the difference, well an Affidavit is a higher level of document because it is sworn (or affirmed), whereas a Declaration is not. An Affidavit tends to be for use in Court, whereas a Statutory Declaration tends to be used as part of a non-court administrative process, for example where a person declares that the contents of their application (whatever they may be applying for) is indeed true.
An affidavit is a legal document that sets out facts by someone who has personal knowledge of them. Think of an affidavit as written court testimony. It reduces the need for people to personally travel to a court and give verbal evidence. Without Affidavits the Court system would be very different, because people who need to physically attend and speak their words to the Court.
In an Affidavit the person who is ‘speaking’ (called the ‘deponent’ in Ireland, or the ‘affiant’ in other legal systems) identifies themselves and their relationship to the matter or case, next they write out facts they know from first-person knowledge. An Affidavit must meet certain rules; for example it must have a certain introduction paragraph, the body must be divided into numbered paragraphs, and it have a certain closing paragraph.
A person who has an Affidavit will sign it ‘before’ (meaning, in the presence of) a Commissioner for Oaths. The person is swearing, or Affirming, that the things they say in the Affidavit are true.
2. Statutory Declaration
Normally an Act or Statutory Instrument (S.I) will specify that a Statutory Declaration is to be used and a template will be given.
As the contents will not be subject to the rules of evidence, the particular way a statutory declaration is drafted is not as regimented as an Affidavit, however the person who is ‘speaking’ must ensure that the contents are correct as they could incur a fine for making a false declaration.”
Do you have an Affidavit or Statutory Declaration?
David O’Sullivan, Commissioner for Oaths, Cork is available to sign all Affidavits and Statutory Declarations use in Ireland. He can be contacted at 0879004346 or www.CommissionerForOaths.ie