Statutory declarations, despite their long history, are still frequently utilised to allow a person to declare something to be true for the purpose of satisfying some legal requirement or regulation, even though no other evidence is available to verify the allegation.
This article looks at the fundamentals of statutory declarations, from what they are and how they can be utilized to who may witness a statutory declaration and what precise wording is required for the declaration to be valid and enforceable.
What is a statutory declaration?
A statutory declaration is a legal document governed by the Statutory Declarations Act 1835. It’s a formal written statement of fact, in which the declarant affirms that whatever he or she knows to be true is best of their knowledge. It must also be authenticated by being signed in the presence of an authorized person, such as a solicitor.
Statutory declarations and affidavits are not the same, despite their close resemblance. An affidavit is a written and sworn statement of facts, whereas statutory declarations, though formal legally binding statements, are not sworn under oath.
Because nonconformists and Quakers opposed to swearing on religious grounds, the statutory declaration was introduced in the early 19th century. The statutory declaration is merely a confirmation of the preceding statement, and while it resembles an affidavit, they are generally used for different things.
Affidavits are frequently used in court cases, whereas statutory declarations are more often employed for non-contentious matters.
Who can witness a statutory declaration?
A statutory declaration can be made before anyone who is authorized by law to administer oaths under the Act. As a result, a statutory declaration may be made in the presence of:
- a practising solicitor
- a commissioner for oaths, who is responsible for verifying sworn statements and other legal papers
- a notary public, also known as a notary: this is a solicitor who specialises in the authentication and certification of signatures, authority and capacity for legal documents used abroad
- This is where you’ll need a justice of the peace: this is a lay judge, selected from among the town’s residents.
- any other authorised person.
Attorneys in England and Wales who possess a valid practicing certificate have the same authority as a commissioner for oaths when certifying a statutory declaration, and it will usually be a solicitor who will be used to verify the signature.
Major ( Lieutenant-Commander and above), British Diplomatic and Consular Officers in post abroad, and similar superior ranks in the armed services may all attest a statutory declaration.
When can a declaration be substituted for an oath?
The 1835 Act allows for a declaration to be used in place of an oath if the following conditions are met:
The Treasury may be running an oath concerning customs or excise taxes, the war office, or the national debt office, among other places.
An incorporated body corporate may administer or accept, by law or statute or through any reasonable usage, an oath or affidavit on behalf of the organisation.
It is also necessary to provide evidence of the proprietor’s identity and death, as well as any other impediment to the transfer of any stocks or funds, in order for a banknote to be sent from one bank to another.
This section applies to affidavits, declarations, attestations, and certificates in connection with the execution of a will, codicil, deed or written instrument executed by competent persons to verify and prove the signing, sealing, publication or delivery of any such document.
Given the origins of the statutory declaration, all of these situations seem rather antiquated. However, subsequent legislation has since set out a variety of additional circumstances when statutory declarations are required. Furthermore, notwithstanding that there is no stringent legal requirement in the United Kingdom to do so, a statutory declaration may be utilized in certain circumstances.
If you want to find out more about Statutory Declarations, take a look at Wafer Phillips in-depth guide.
This post is intended to provide general advice only. The information provided in this article does not constitute legal advice and is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. It should not be treated as such. However, due to the many variables involved, the information supplied may not be complete or accurate. I am not responsible for any mistakes or omissions that may occur as a result of using this material. Examine the material carefully before acting on any of it. Legal counsel should be sought before taking any action based on this information.