Oaths and Affirmations (SA)
A person in South Australia may be required to take an oath or make an affirmation in a range of situations. These include when the person is to give evidence in court and when they are signing a statutory declaration or affidavit. Oaths and affirmations in South Australia are governed by the Oaths Act 1936.
An oath is a religious declaration that a person can make before God or in accordance with their belief system. The Oaths Act 1936 contains different oaths to be sworn in different circumstances, including a judicial oath, an oath of office, and an oath of allegiance.
An affirmation is the non-religious equivalent of an oath. A person may elect to make an affirmation rather than taking an oath because they do not believe in a religion, or for any other reason.
An affirmation has the same effect as an oath and the penalties for making a false statement are the same regardless of whether the evidence was given under oath or under affirmation.
When a child or a person with an intellectual disability is required to give evidence or sign a declaration, they may do so by making a promise to tell the truth rather than taking a formal oath or affirmation. The promise may be given in any way that is appropriate to the child’s level of maturity or the person’s level of cognition.
Who may administer oaths and affirmation?
Under Schedule 1 the Oaths Act 1936, the following person may administer oaths and affirmations in South Australia:
- Justices of the Peace
- Police officers
- Notaries public
- Commissioners to taking affidavits in the Supreme Court
Under section 27 of the Oaths Act 1936, a person who makes a false statement in a statutory declaration is guilty of an offence punishable by imprisonment for four years.
Under section 35 of the Oaths Act 1936, a person who administers an oath or affirmation when they are not authorised to do so is guilty of an offence punishable by a fine of $10,000 or imprisonment for six months. Under the same section, a person who represents themselves as authorised to administer such a declaration when they are not is guilty of an offence punishable by a fine of $1,500.
Under section 242 of the Criminal Law Consolidation Act 1935, a person who makes a false statement under oath is guilty of perjury, which is punishable by imprisonment for seven years.
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