An affidavit is a written sworn statement from a witness in a case. It is a document that sets out in paragraph form the evidence that the witness wishes to give. Affidavits are usually written and prepared by a solicitor or a barrister after having obtained all the necessary information from the witness. The wording used in the affidavit will depend on the circumstances of the case. Your solicitor can give you more information on the wording that will be used.
When the affidavit is ready, the witness must go before a Commissioner for Oaths. The Commissioner for Oaths will check that the person swearing the oath has read the affidavit and fully understands the contents. The witness will be asked to raise the Bible and to repeat the words of the oath. If the witness does not wish to swear an oath on the Bible, he or she may make an affirmation. He or she will then sign the affidavit.
The Commissioner for Oaths will verify that the affidavit was properly sworn by completing a jurat on the affidavit. It may then be submitted as evidence to the court by lodging it in the appropriate court office and sending a duplicate to the other party in the case.
Some cases do not involve an oral hearing with witnesses giving evidence in court. Those cases may be dealt with by affidavit only. For example, if the Plaintiff issues a summary summons, it will be accompanied by an affidavit setting out the facts of the case. The Defendant may then respond by affidavit. The judge may be able to decide the case by simply reading the affidavits. This is a swifter and less expensive procedure.
An affidavit must include the following information:
- The title of the case
- The identity of the person making the affidavit and their occupation and address
- It must state that the witness is over 18 years of age or, if not over 18, the age of the witness
- In general, the evidence must be confined to such facts as the witness is able to prove of their own knowledge and must state the means of such knowledge
- The affidavit must be dated and signed by the witness.
- The affidavit must contain a jurat which is a section where the Commissioner for Oaths verifies that the affidavit was properly sworn
The evidence that the witness gives must be set out clearly in numbered paragraph format. The language is less formal that the language of formal pleadings.
The rules for affidavits are set out in the court rules for the Superior, Circuit and District courts which are available on the Courts Service website.
The stamp duty that must be paid when an affidavit is lodged in the Circuit Court office is €15. In the High Court Central office, the duty is €20.
Your solicitor and barrister will also charge fees for their services.
For more detailed information you should seek legal advice.