Oaths and Affirmations (Vic)
In Victoria, the laws governing oaths and affirmations are set out in the Oaths and Affirmations Act 2018. This page deals with how oath and affirmations are taken in Victoria.
An oath or affirmation is required to be made in a range of situations including when a person is giving oral evidence, when a person is signing a statutory declaration or an affidavit, when a person is being sworn into a public office, or when a person is certifying a copy of a document.
Who may administer an oath or affirmation?
When a person takes an oath or makes an affirmation, they must do so in the presence of a suitably qualified person. In Victoria, this may be a legal practitioner, a Justice of the Peace, judicial officer, public notary, court registrar or police officer.
An oath is a religious declaration where the deponent swears before God that they will tell the truth to the best of their ability. An oath may be made in accordance with the religion of the deponent’s choice.
When a deponent makes an oath, they say, ‘I swear by Almighty God that…’
An oath should generally be spoken but it is not necessary to use a copy of a scripture. If the deponent is unable to speak aloud, the oath may be made in a modified form.
An affirmation is the non-religious equivalent of an oath, where a deponent makes a solemn declaration that they will tell the truth rather than swearing to do so before God.
When a deponent makes an affirmation, they say, ‘I solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that…’
A person may elect to take an affirmation rather than an oath because they are not religious or for any other reason. An affirmation has the same effect as an oath.
If a child or a person with an intellectual disability is called as a witness in a court proceeding, or makes a statutory declaration or affidavit, they may make an informal promise to tell the truth rather than taking a formal oath or affirmation.
Under section 37 of the Act, a person who knowingly makes a false or misleading statement in a statutory declaration is guilty of an offence punishable by a fine of 10 penalty units.
Under section 47 of the Act, a person who presents a document for certification knowing it is not a true copy of the original commits an offence punishable by a fine of 600 penalty units or imprisonment for five years, or both.
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