Oaths and Affirmations (ACT)

When a person gives evidence in court or in an affidavit, they must take an oath or make an affirmation to the effect that the information they are giving is the truth. In the ACT, this is governed by the Oaths and Affirmations Act 1984. This page deals with oaths and affirmations in the ACT.

When are they required?

A person must take an oath or make an affirmation in the following situations.

  • Where the person is to give evidence in a court proceeding
  • Where the person is to act as an interpreter during court proceedings
  • Where the person signs an affidavit
  • Where a person takes up public office
  • Where a person becomes a member of the Legislative Assembly

The Act provides different oaths with different wording to be used in each of the above situations. The different oaths are contained in the Schedules to the Act.

Who can administer oaths and affirmations?

Under section 11 of the Act, members of the following occupations may administer an oath or affirmation in the ACT:

  • Legal practitioners
  • Justices of the Peace
  • Notaries public

Sworn statements made in other jurisdictions may be administered by any person qualified to administer an oath in that state or territory.


An oath is a religious declaration that is sworn before God. An oath may be made in accordance with the religion of the deponent’s choice.

If the person is physically capable of speaking the words of the oath, they should do so. If they are not capable of speaking, they may take the oath by other means.

A religious text does not need to be used when taking an oath.


An affirmation is the non-religious equivalent of an oath, which is taken when a person who is required to give sworn evidence objects to taking a religious oath. This may be because they are not religious or because they follow a religion that does not practise religious oaths.

An affirmation has the same effect of an oath.

Child witnesses

When a child is called as a witness in a court proceeding, they may be asked to make a promise that the evidence they give will be truthful rather than taking a formal oath or affirmation. The promise can be given in a form that is appropriate to the child’s age and level of maturity.   


There are several offences that relate to the giving or administering of oaths and affirmations in the ACT.

Under section 25 of the Oaths and Affirmations Act 1984, a person who requires a person to take or administers an oath or affirmation when not qualified to do so commits an offence punishable by a fine of 50 penalty units or imprisonment for six months, or both.

Under section 703 of the Criminal Code 2002, a person who makes a false sworn statement in a legal proceeding is guilty of the offence or perjury. Perjury is punishable by a fine of 700 penalty units or imprisonment for seven years.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.
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