Oaths and Affirmations (Qld)
When a person gives sworn evidence, whether they are doing so in person or in a written form, they are required to take an oath or make an affirmation attesting to the truth of their statements. In Queensland, oaths and affirmations are governed by the Oaths Act 1867. This page deals with how oaths and affirmations are taken and when they are required in Queensland.
An oath is a religious declaration that calls upon God to witness the truthfulness of the statement being made. Historically, swearing an oath before God was taken very seriously. Today, a person can swear a religious oath in keeping with a range of religions, and different oaths are used for different religious beliefs.
A Christian oath must be sworn on a bible, but this can be a full bible, the new testament only, or the old testament only.
The oath is made in the following words: ‘I swear that the contents of this document are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief, so help me God.’
A Jewish oath is sworn on the Torah or Pentateuch, using the same words as the Christian oath.
An Islamic oath is sworn on the Koran, wrapped in a white cloth.
The words used are: ‘In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. By Almighty Allah, in whose hands are my life, I promise to give the facts completely, truthfully and sincerely to the best of my ability.’
A Chinese oath involves lighting a candle or a match and asking the deponent to blow it out and state the following words: ‘I swear that I shall tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. This candle (or match) is now extinguished, and if I do not tell the truth, may my soul, in like manner, be extinguished forever hereafter’.’
A Buddhist oath is made with the following words: ‘I declare, as in the presence of Buddha, that I am unprejudiced, and if what I shall speak shall prove false, or if by colouring the truth others shall be led astray, then may the three Holy Existences—Buddha, Dhamma and Pro Sangha—in whose sight I now stand, together with the Devotees of the Twenty-two Firmaments, punish me and also my migrating soul.’
An affirmation is a non-religious equivalent of an oath. It was introduced to cater to people who do not hold religious beliefs or who follow a religion that does not accept the use of oaths. However, the law does not permit a person to take an affirmation rather than an oath because of a belief that they are under less of an obligation to tell the truth.
A secular affirmation is taken by asking the deponent: ‘Do you solemnly, sincerely and truly affirm and declare that the contents of this your [document] are true and correct to the best of your knowledge?’
An affirmation by a quaker is made as follows: ‘I, [name], being one of the people called Quakers, do solemnly sincerely and truly affirm and declare that the contents of this my [document] are true.
An affirmation by a Moravian is made as follows: ‘I, [name], being of the united brethren called Moravians, do solemnly sincerely and truly affirm and declare that the contents of this my [document] are true.’
An affirmation by a Separatist is made as follows: ‘I, [name], do in the presence of Almighty God solemnly, sincerely and truly affirm and declare that I am a member of the religious sect called Separatists and that the taking of an oath is contrary to my religious belief as well as essentially opposed to the tenets of that sect and I do also in the same solemn manner affirm and declare that the contents of this my [document] are true.’
When is an oath or affirmation required?
Under the Oaths Act 1867, a person who is making a statutory declaration or affidavit must take an oath or affirmation. This must be administered by a qualified person such as a lawyer, Justice of the Peace, doctor or pharmacist.
An oath or affirmation must also be taken in a range of other situations including when a person is being sworn is as:
- A witness in a criminal or civil trial
- A juror in a criminal or civil trial
- An interpreter in a court proceeding
The Oaths Act 1867 contains oaths with different wording for these different situations.
Making a false declaration, such as a statutory declaration or an affidavit, is an offence under section 194 of the Criminal Code 1899. This can attract a penalty of up to three years imprisonment.
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