What is an affidavit and when will it be used?


An affidavit is a written statement from an individual which is sworn to be true – it is essentially an oath that what they are saying is the truth. An affidavit will be used along with witness statements to prove the truthfulness of a certain statement in court.

Personal knowledge of the individual

The contents of an affidavit reflect the personal knowledge of the individual making the statement. This means that someone cannot be penalised for failing to include information which they were not aware of.

This personal knowledge can include personal opinion rather than fact; however, it must be stated that this is opinion not fact.

Who can offer an affidavit?

Any individual can offer an affidavit as long as they have the mental capacity to understand the seriousness of the oath.

Can an affidavit ever be offered on behalf of an individual?

In certain cases an affidavit can be offered on behalf of someone else, for example a guardian can submit one for an individual who is severely mentally ill.

What happens if an individual knowingly makes a false affidavit?

If an individual knowingly makes a false a statement in an affidavit they commit an offence of perjury or contempt of court and could be fined or imprisoned.

In what circumstances will I be required to use an affidavit?

The most common times which an individual will be required to use an affidavit is in the following circumstances:

  • Divorce proceedings
  • Property disputes
  • Debt cases

However, an affidavit can be a required piece of documentation in any dispute before a court.

When will I know if I am required to use an affidavit?

Individuals will be prompted to use an affidavit where the rules of the court require them. As most individuals will employ a solicitor to oversee their court case, their solicitor will tell them when an affidavit must be used.

How must I complete an affidavit?

When completing an affidavit you must ensure you write your account of the facts or the events exactly as they happened. You must try to use plain English, rather than resorting to legal jargon. You should also refrain from making personal comments about the other party to the action.

Is there a requirement that the affidavit be witnessed?

If an individual is completing an affidavit it must usually be signed in the presence of a solicitor. In some cases though, it can be signed in front of a notary public or another judicial officer who has administered the oath.

Will I be charged a fee for my affidavit to be sworn?

If you sign your affidavit in front of a solicitor or a notary public they will usually charge a fee for swearing the affidavit. However, if this process is done at court there will be no charge.

Ensure the information contained in the affidavit is correct

When an individual offers an affidavit, they should ensure they have read over it to ensure it is correct. If any errors are found in the document they should be corrected before it is signed – this is a condition regardless of whether it is convenient for the officials taking down the information and witnessing.

Other Important Information

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About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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