An affidavit is a written statement for use as evidence in court proceedings. The person who makes an affidavit is called the deponent. When witnessing an affidavit, a JP must hear the deponent swear an oath or make an affirmation.
An oath is a binding promise, based on the deponent’s religious or spiritual beliefs, to tell the truth.
An affirmation is a binding and solemn promise to tell the truth. It has the same legal effect as an oath, but does not refer to God or another sacred being or object. Any person may choose to take an affirmation instead of an oath.
After the deponent swears an oath or makes an affirmation, the deponent and the JP complete the section at the end of the affidavit. This section is called the jurat.
You may witness an affidavit that is required for the purpose of:
- any Australian court or tribunal, or
- the registration of any instrument in Australia, or
- any arbitration in Australia
provided that the affidavit is signed and witnessed within the NSW jurisdiction.
You should check that the deponent understands the purpose, effect and contents of the affidavit. You can do this by asking open-ended questions to gain the information.
It is an offence, and penalties apply, for:
- a deponent who makes a false affidavit
- an authorised witness in NSW who witnesses an affidavit and fails to follow the required steps for identifying the deponent
An affidavit may be made by two or more deponents. In such a case, you must undertake certain steps in the procedure in respect of each deponent.