Commissioners for Oaths
A Commissioner for Oaths is a person who is authorised to verify affidavits, statutory declarations and other legal documents. Affidavits are statements in writing and on oath, and statutory declarations are written statements of facts that the person signs and declares to be true.
A Commissioner for Oaths is appointed by the Chief Justice and is usually, though not necessarily, a solicitor. All practicing solicitors can also administer oaths.
A Commissioner for Oaths who is a:
- Solicitor – cannot use their powers in any proceedings in which they are acting for any of the parties or in which they have an interest.
- Non-solicitor – must not practise outside the area for which they are appointed.
A Commissioner for Oaths, who is also a Peace Commissioner, must not charge fees for administering oaths or taking declarations or affirmations that they cannot charge for as a Peace Commissioner.
You may need the services of a Commissioner for Oaths if you are:
- Giving evidence on affidavit for court proceedings in Ireland
- Making an affirmation, declaration, acknowledgement, examination or attestation for the purposes of court proceedings or for the purposes of registration of documents
The Functions of a Commissioner for Oaths
The essential functions of a Commissioner for Oaths are:
- To make sure that the evidence in question is in written form (the draft affidavit)
- To establish that the person before them has read the draft affidavit and fully understands the contents
- To have the person swear that the affidavit is true by raising the appropriate Testament in their right hand and repeating the words of the oath
- To verify that the affidavit was properly sworn by completing a "jurat" on the affidavit
A Commissioner for Oaths charges a fee for their services.
Oaths and Affirmations
The law that deals with oaths and affirmations dates back to the 19th and early 20th century, and primarily focuses on people of the Christian or Jewish faiths. A person making an oath will be required to swear the oath by raising the New Testament. A person who is Jewish may swear the oath by raising the Old Testament.
The oath you take before the Commissioner for Oaths is:
"I swear by Almighty God that this is my name and handwriting, and that the contents of this my affidavit are true".
A person who objects to swearing the oath on the grounds that taking an oath is against their religious belief or that they have no religious belief is permitted to make a solemn affirmation, which is phrased as follows:
"I, A.B., do solemnly and sincerely affirm that this is my name and handwriting, and that the contents of this my affidavit are true".
You may need to provide the Commissioner with evidence of your identity, particularly if you are having an affidavit verified. So, bring a standard form of identification with you in case it’s needed, for example, a passport or driving licence.
The fees a Commissioner for Oaths can charge are given in the Rules of the Superior Courts (Fees Payable to Commissioners for Oaths) (SI 616 of 2003). There is a standard fee of €10 euro per signature for verifying statements. If there is an exhibit, for example, a marriage certificate, that needs to be attached to the document, it also needs to be signed. There is a €2 charge for each exhibit, up to a maximum of €30 for all exhibits combined. You are advised to check the charges in advance.
How to apply
If you need a Commissioner for Oaths, you should contact a solicitor and find out whether they provide a Commissioner for Oaths service to the public.
If you want to be appointed as a Commissioner for Oaths you apply by Petition to the Chief Justice. You must verify the Petition by Affidavit and provide Certificates of Fitness signed by 6 members of the legal profession and by six leaders of the local business community.