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New Court Rules Allow Affidavits To Be Sworn Remotely

From 31st March 2021, Affidavits and Statutory Declarations may be sworn remotely via video link. This reform has been sought for by the legal community since the onset of Covid-19 but required the amending of the Superior Court Rules in order to come into effect. This is now set out in Rule 9 of Order 40.

While setting out the requirements to swear an Affidavit via video conferencing, the Superior Court Rules still state a preference for physical in-person swearing. Therefore, the reasons why it is not practicable for the Deponent of the Affidavit to attend in the physical presence of the person they are swearing the affidavit in front of, must be briefly set out in the Affidavit.

The Rules also specifically state a number of steps the Solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths must take to ensure the affidavit is properly sworn.

These include that they must have a copy of the affidavit, any exhibits referred to in it and, where they are relying on a photo ID to verify the deponent’s identity, a certified copy of that photo ID, before the document is sworn. They should also be satisfied that the deponent has the appropriate religious book/text to swear the affidavit on.

During the video conference, the Deponent must produce the original of their photo ID and must identify each page of the affidavit and any exhibit referred to in it and then sign or mark any exhibit, and sign and swear the affidavit. The rules do not clarify exactly out how each page of the affidavit and exhibit is to be identified by the Deponent.  

Immediately following the video-conference, the sworn affidavit and exhibits should be sent to the Solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths for attestation.

The jurat of the affidavit should indicate the date on which the affidavit was made by the deponent and the place at which the Solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths was when the affidavit was sworn as well as the fact that the affidavit was sworn using a videoconference.

While this is a welcome change, especially during the Covid-19 restrictions, it may be short lived, if the proposed reform to replace the swearing of affidavits and statutory declarations with unsworn “statements of truth,” is implemented. This reform was first called for by the Law Reform Commission over 30 years ago and Government passed legislation last year to allow its implementation. However, this reform also requires an amendment of the Court Rules for implementation.

Link – http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2021/si/127/made/en/print

Authors – Anne O’Connell & David Murphy

30th March 2021

Anne O’Connell Solicitors

19-22 Lower Baggot Street, Dublin 2

www.aocsolicitors.ie

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