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.
Affidavits are documentation which will be used along with witness statements to prove the truthfulness of a certain statement in court.
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 in some circumstances include personal opinion rather than fact however, it must be stated that this is simply opinion and not fact.
Any individual can offer an affidavit so long as they have the mental capacity to understand the seriousness of the oath.
In certain cases an affidavit can be offered on behalf of someone else – this may be the case in relation to the guardianship of an individual who is severely mentally ill.
If an individual makes a false affidavit by making a statement which is false then they, if found out, will be found to have committed contempt of court.
The most common times which an individual will be required to use an affidavit is in the following circumstances:
Essentially an affidavit can be a required piece of documentation in any dispute before a court.
Individuals will be prompted on the use of an affidavit when are where the rules of the court require them. As most individuals will employ a solicitor to oversee their court case their solicitor will understand the court rules and will prompt them as to when an affidavit must be used.
When completing an affidavit you must ensure that you right your account of the facts or the events exactly as they happened. You must ensure that you endeavour to use plain English rather than resorting to legal jargon.
You should also ensure that you refrain from making personal comments about the other party to the action.
If an individual is completing an affidavit there is in most cases the requirement that it must be signed in the presence of a solicitor.
It does not always have to be signed in front of a solicitor in other cases it can be signed in front of a notary public or another judicial officer who has administered the oath.
If you sign your affidavit in front of a solicitor they will usually be entitled to charge a fee for swearing the affidavit. However if this process is done at court there will be no charge.
You cannot take an affidavit to any court to be sworn. For example County Courts cannot swear affidavits that are connected to cases brought in the High Court.
When an individual offers an affidavit they should take care to ensure that they have read over it to ensure that it is correct. As the document is accompanied by a legally binding oath it is imperative to ensure that the facts are clearly and accurately represented. 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.
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