Swearing or affirming an affidavit?
21 Aug 2019
- Wills & Estates
Have you ever wondered about the difference between swearing and affirming an affidavit? In this article Jane Garraway explains how they differ.
An affidavit is a written statement where the contents are sworn or affirmed to be true. Affidavits must be signed in front of a witness who is an ‘authorised person’. It is common for affidavits to be signed before a justice of the peace (JP) or a legal practitioner. The authorised person will ask you to ‘swear’ or ‘affirm’ that the content of the affidavit is true.
Swearing vs affirming
Swearing is known as swearing an oath. An oath is a form of words spoken by a person to promise that they are telling the truth. An oath refers to the God recognised by the religion of the person swearing the oath. On the other hand, an affirmation has the same legal effect as an oath but does not refer to God. Any person may choose to take an affirmation instead of an oath.
Under NSW legislation – Oath Act 1900 (NSW) – if you choose to swear an affidavit, the authorised person will offer you the relevant holy book (such as the Bible), to hold if you are physically able to, while you swear the oath. The authorised person must ask: ‘Do you swear that the contents of this your affidavit are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?’. You will then swear the content by saying: ‘I swear that the affidavit is true, so help me [God, or the name of the God recognised by the deponent’s religion]’.
If you choose to make an affirmation, the authorised person must ask: ‘Do you solemnly and sincerely and truly declare and affirm that the contents of this your affidavit are true and correct to the best of your knowledge and belief?’. You will then swear to the truth of the contents by saying: ‘I do.’
The authorised person will then ask you to sign the end of the affidavit, and the bottom of each page of the affidavit. After they have witnessed you sign the affidavit, the authorised person will also sign the end of the affidavit, the bottom of each page and any annexures or exhibits.
The wording in the ACT legislation – Oath and Affirmation Act (ACT) 1984 –is slightly different to that of the NSW legislation. You can swear the contents of your affidavit by saying: ‘I swear by Almighty God that the signature to this affidavit is my signature and that every statement in the affidavit is true’.
If you choose to make an affirmation you will do so by saying: ‘I solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that the signature to this affidavit is my signature and that every statement in the affidavit is true’.
How can we help?
If you need to have an affidavit witnessed, you can contact us on 02 6285 8000 or by email to organise a time at one of our offices (Deakin or Gungahlin). When witnessing documents, we do ask for a gold coin donation towards our charity of the month.