Preparing affidavit statements is a common legal process used in various UK civil and criminal cases. In this article, we’ll show you how to gain a sworn affidavit statement in the UK.
What Is An Affidavit?
An affidavit is a written statement of evidence, either sworn by oath or affirmed by an individual before a person authorised to administer oaths. The meaning of affidavit originates from the Latin word affidare which has the following meaning “he has stated on oath”.
What Is An Affidavit In The UK?
In the UK, an affidavit is usually sworn or affirmed in the presence of a Commissioner for Oaths, who can either be a solicitor or notary public. If the affidavit is used abroad, it will need to be signed in the presence of a notary public.
When Would You Need To Use An Affidavit?
Affidavits are needed when an individual files a witness statement during court proceedings. The individual confirms that the contents are true and accurate by executing the affidavit.
Affidavits are intended to be used in court proceedings. The court will require you to file a statement and will give you a deadline to complete it. They are common across all types of litigation including property disputes, financial matters, divorce and family law proceedings, and inheritance claims.
In the UK, since the introduction of the Civil Procedure Rules, witness statements have become more commonplace at the expense of affidavits. The main difference between them is that an affidavit contains a jurat, whereas a witness statement contains a statement of truth.
Occasionally individuals are asked to provide an affidavit for a matter not related to court proceedings. You may be asked to provide a sworn affidavit to an embassy or consulate for example to clarify certain matters. If you have been asked to do this, you will have been requested to provide statements of fact sworn/affirmed in the presence of a legal professional to add veracity to your statements.
Here are the following steps on how to prepare an affidavit in the UK.
Step 1: Preparing An Affidavit
The style and wording of an affidavit can vary depending on where it will be used.
In the UK, a general template form, known as an N285, can be found on the Gov.uk website. You can either use the template, prepare one yourself, or a legal professional can draft one for you.
Here are some key requirements to remember when drafting the affidavit:
- Ensure the document is correctly titled as an affidavit
- Make sure the document confirms your identity and includes your name, age, occupation and address
- Concise and factual wording is very important. Write your statements in the first person and do not include personal opinions or waffle.
- It is important to write your statements in the first with concise and factual wording
- If you wish to attach further evidence, clearly refer to the evidence as an exhibit in the affidavit. It is common for a separate exhibit cover sheet containing a statement of truth to be attached.
- The affidavit must contain a jurat at the foot of the affidavit. This should state where the affidavit was sworn/affirmed, the date, and before who.
If you are using the affidavit abroad, you may have a lawyer who will draft it for you. They will draft it according to the rules of local courts and laws. As notaries, we see great variation in affidavits drafted across the world.
If you are drafting an affidavit to use abroad yourself, we recommend drafting it in a style that includes similar wording used in the UK.
Regardless of whether the affidavit is to be used in the UK or abroad, it can not be stressed enough that the facts written should be accurate and truthful. False representations are punishable by the court and there can be severe consequences to an individual who makes them.
The person administering the oath/affirmation will check the affidavit to ensure that it clearly states your intent, and will ask you to review it in their presence. Once you have confirmed you are happy to sign it, and assuming there are no mistakes on the affidavit, the oath/affirmation will be administered.
Step 2: Executing An Affidavit
A key part of an affidavit is its execution. Affidavits contain a section called a jurat, which is a clause at the foot of an affidavit showing when, where and before whom the actual oath was sworn or affirmed.
Firstly, you will need to decide who you want to administer the oath/affirmation. If you are submitting the affidavit in a UK court, you can visit anyone authorised by UK law to administer oaths. This includes commissioners for oaths, solicitors, notaries, and judicial officers. If however, you are submitting the affidavit abroad, you will need to visit a notary.
You should then decide if you want the affidavit sworn or affirmed. A sworn affidavit involves swearing on a religious book to confirm that contents are true and accurate. Different religious texts will be available although, it is always best to ask the person administering the oath to check they have the correct book available on the day.
If you’d prefer to affirm the affidavit, it will have the same legal weighting as swearing an oath. An affirmation is a secular alternative which is a verbal, solemn and formal declaration in place of the oath and has equal legal weighting to swearing an oath. It is best to decide in advance of your appointment with the legal professional so that the correct method can be stated in the jurat prior to your signing.
When attending your appointment to execute the affidavit, you will need to bring identification with you. This will include one form of photographic ID such as a passport, driving licence or ID card, and one proof of address dated within 3 months such as a bank statement or utility bill. The person administering your oath/affirmation will check these documents before you sign. They will then confirm that the affidavit corresponds with your wishes and will ask you to review it in their presence.
After you have sworn your oath or affirmed, you will need to sign your signature on the affidavit. The person administering the oath/affirmation will then sign as the witness, and write the location and date of the execution.
What Happens If An Affidavit Makes A False Claim?
In the UK, if you make a false statement with known disregard for the truth, it is a criminal offence and you can be prosecuted. It is therefore extremely important that when signing an affidavit you consider the contents carefully and make sure any statement is genuine and truthful.
Affidavits intended to be used outside of the UK will be governed by local law. Similar tough sanctions are often in place for individuals who knowingly make false statements which can be relied on in court.
What Are The Fees Charged?
You will need to pay a fee to execute your affidavit and the fee will vary depending on who administers the oath/affirmation, and where you will be using the affidavit. A fee is payable to compensate the person who administers the oath/affirmation for their service and time.
If you are using the affidavit in UK courts, you can visit any person allowed to administer oaths, and The Commissioners for Oaths (Fees) Order 1993 will apply. This is a statute dictating how much professionals can charge for the service, and it currently stands at £5 to witness the signing of an affidavit and £2 to sign an exhibit.
If you are using the affidavit outside of the UK, you will need to visit a notary public. The notary will charge their own fee often significantly more. Notaries will undertake thorough identity checks on individuals signing the affidavit, prepare a notarial certificate confirming the signature and capacity of the individual, and maintain a record of the act on their notarial register.
Notarial certification is recognised internationally as being of a higher standard and is preferred across jurisdictions.
If you need help drafting an affidavit, a legal professional can often assist. Our team of notaries will be happy to listen to your requirements and help draft the perfect affidavit for your needs. Additionally drafting fees will apply for this service, and you will be given a fixed quote depending on the complexity of the affidavit.
Who Can Sign An Affidavit In The UK And What Are Their Duties In This Proceeding?
Notaries are lawyers specialising in the authentication of signatures and identities. A notary public is also a commissioner for oaths and permitted to authorise affidavits according to Chapter 10 of the Commissioner for Oaths Act 1889.
The oldest branch of the legal profession, notaries, have been trusted for centuries to diligently administer oaths/affirmations and must adhere to strict rules and regulations when offering notarial services.
As notaries, we can administer your oath/affirmation for either the UK or abroad. If you need it for the UK, we will assist in our capacity as a commissioner for oaths. If you need it for abroad, we will assist as notaries.
When notarising your affidavit we will verify the identity of each signatory, assessing their legal capacity and understanding of the content. If signing an affidavit in a representative capacity we will also check you are authorised to do so. Once executed, we will keep a record of the act and a copy of the affidavit on file in case you need it in future.
Need Assistance With An Affidavit?
We will provide you with clear guidance on what documents will be required and how to complete the entire procedure for you as easy as possible. We are here to assist if any legalisation or translation services are needed for your affidavit if also required.