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Making an oath or affirmation

Information about the difference between oaths and affirmations for statutory declarations, affidavits and going to court.

From 1 March 2019, the Oaths and Affirmations Act 2018 commences operation. This Act governs taking oaths and making of affirmations. This Act is meant to simplify and clarify the processes for these legal rituals. However, other Acts also deal with particular procedures and uses of oaths and affirmations. Under these circumstances, this new Act is designed to fill in any gaps in the more specific Acts and to be read in conjunction with those Acts. This Act is not designed to limit the powers or practices of courts or tribunals.

The Victorian Evidence Act 2008 continues to govern how oaths and affidavits are to be made in most legal proceedings in Victoria.

What are oaths and affirmations?

Oaths and affirmations are solemn promises under law. There are penalties for making solemn statements in this way that are not true.

A witness is required to take an oath or make an affirmation if they are:

  • making a declaration
  • making an affidavit
  • giving evidence in court.

What is an oath?

An oath is a solemn promise that statements made are true. Oaths are made while holding up a Bible, or other religious book according to the person’s religious beliefs.

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is a verbal, solemn and formal declaration that may be made in place of an oath if:

  • a person objects to taking an oath
  • an oath is contrary to that person’s religious beliefs
  • a person has no religious beliefs.

The Bible or other religious document is never used in the making of an affirmation. An affirmation has the same effect as an oath.

What is a jurat?

A jurat is the certification at the end of an affirmation stating when and where the solemn promise was sworn or affirmed, and by whom. This is followed by the signature and title of the person before whom the affirmation was sworn or affirmed.

Oaths and affirmations under Commonwealth law

The wording to be used when making an oath or affirmation in a Commonwealth court is set out in the Schedule of the Evidence Act 1995 (Cth) (link below).

More information

Legislation

Evidence Act 2008 (Vic)

  • Schedule 1—oaths and affirmations
  • s. 21—sworn evidence
  • s. 22—interpreters to act on oath or affirmation
  • s. 23—choice of oath or affirmation
  • s. 24—requirements for oaths
  • s. 24A—alternative oath

See Evidence Act 2008 (Vic).

Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic)

  • Part lV—Division 11—Jurat
  • s. 126—jurat has to state where and when an oath was taken
  • Jurat is to be prima facie evidence of execution

See Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 (Vic).

Evidence Act 1995 (Cth)

  • Schedule—Oaths and affirmations
  • Part 2.1 Division 2—oaths and affirmations by witnesses

See Evidence Act 1995 (Cth).

References

The Courts and Tribunals site has information on the process of swearing or affirming affidavits.

See Courts Services Victoria—Oaths and affirmations.

Updated