How, why and when you need a Commissioners for Oaths

signing document for verification

When you need to have legal documents verified, statements authorised or to provide evidence in writing, you’ll need the services of a Commissioner for Oaths.

A Commissioner for Oaths is authorised by the Lord Chancellor to:

  • Verify legal documents
  • Draft affidavits and take oaths
  • Swear or affirm statutory declarations
  • Certify copies of important documents such as passports

All practicing solicitors such as our Directors here at LGFL are authorised Commissioners for Oaths. The only restriction on us that we cannot act as your Commissioner for Oaths if we are acting for you in a case or have an interest in your case.

There is a reduced fee laid down in the Commissioners for Oaths (Fees) Order 1993/2297 for affidavits and oaths as follows:

  • For taking an affidavit, declaration or affirmation: £5 per person
  • For each exhibit referred to in the above, and required to be marked: £2.00 per item

There is no VAT applicable on these prices.


What is an affidavit?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, an affidavit is:

“A written statement that someone makes after promising officially to tell the truth. An affidavit can be used as evidence in a law court.”

Courts may require an affidavit as a written statement from you as a witness involved in a court case. It sets out the evidence you want to present in court. So, it’s important that it is carefully written and properly authorised. By swearing an oath, you are confirming the truth of the contents of the affidavit as if you were standing in court.

You might also need an affidavit as:

  • A letter of freedom to marry for a Roman Catholic wedding
  • A personal identity document if a foreign national before entering into a civil marriage in England and Wales.


How to make an affidavit

You need to go to a Commissioner for Oaths such as ourselves to make an affidavit. Here’s how it works.

  1. We check that you have read and fully understood the contents of the affidavit.
  2. You then need to swear an oath to verify you have understood the affidavit’s content. This is usually done by raising a Bible or another holy testament in your hand and repeating the words of the oath. If you do not wish to swear an oath with a Bible for religious or other reasons, you can make an affirmation instead.
  3. Once you have sworn the oath or made your affirmation, you then sign the affidavit.
  4. We will confirm that the affidavit was properly sworn by completing and signing  a section know as the ‘jurat’.
  5. You can now submit the affidavit as evidence to court.

It’s important to remember that an affidavit is a sworn statement of truth. If you  swear an oath on an affidavit that you know not to be true, you could be charged with perjury and possibly fined or even imprisoned.


Making a Statutory Declaration

Statutory declarations are similar to affidavits and are used when evidence under oath is required outside of a court hearing. The legislation is centuries old, and the declaration you make is made under the provisions of the Statutory Declarations Act 1835!

You might need a statutory declaration to:

  • Formally declare your nationality or marital status if other documentation is unavailable
  • Confirm a change of name for use on drivers licences, etc
  • Authorise a bank to transfer money to people involved with dealing with an estate, such as the executors of a will
  • Confirm the origins of goods you are exporting

When you make a statutory declaration, you are confirming that something is true to the best knowledge of your knowledge at the time of making the declaration. Like an affidavit, your declaration must signed in the presence of a solicitor, commissioner for oaths or notary public. As the name suggests, declarations are always declared rather than sworn, so no holy book will be required.


Certified documents service

Certified copies of documents are sometimes required by organisations as proof of status, identity or entitlement. Rather than send precious originals, you can have a certified copy made by us. We simply photocopy the original, check  that the copy is a replica and stamp and sign the copy. The certified copy is only valid with our signature and stamp. We have a standard charge for this service.

There are some documents we cannot verify:

  • UK births, deaths or marriage certificates. You should contact a Registry Office to obtain an official certified copy.
  • Documents downloaded from the Internet - we must have sight of the original


Affidavits and Commissioner for Oaths services at LGFL Ltd

We’re always happy to act as a Commissioner for Oaths and certify documents. We’re a busy family law practice, so please don’t just drop at either of our offices unannounced! Call us first and make an appointment, so we can make sure one of our solicitors is available to help you, either at our main Swallowfield offices or our office at Spaces Reading.


Why ‘affidavit'?

Like many legal terms, the word ‘affidavit’ has its roots in 16th century Latin. Literally translated as ‘he has stated on oath’, it’s the perfect 3rd singular for of the verb ‘affidare’, meaning ‘to trust (oneself) to’. So now you know!