An affidavit is a sworn written statement from a witness in a case. It is a document that sets out the evidence that the witness wants to give. The witness who swears an affidavit is known as a deponent.
Cases without an oral hearing
Some cases do not involve an oral hearing with witnesses giving evidence in court. Instead, these cases are dealt with using only affidavits.
For example, if the plaintiff (the person bringing the case) issues a summary summons, it will be accompanied by an affidavit setting out the facts of the case. The defendant can then respond by swearing their own affidavit.
The judge may be able to decide the case by reading the affidavits, which is a quicker and less expensive procedure.
What should an affidavit include?
An affidavit must include:
- The title of the case
- The identity of the person making the affidavit
- The occupation and address of the person making the affidavit
- A statement that the witness is over 18 years of age or, if they are not over 18, the age of the witness
- The evidence, which must generally be facts that the witness is able to prove of their own knowledge, and it must also state how they got this knowledge
- The signature of the witness and the date they signed it
- A jurat, which is a section on the affidavit where the Commissioner for Oaths or practising solicitor verifies and signs that the affidavit was properly sworn
The evidence the witness gives must be set out clearly in numbered paragraphs. The language can be less formal than the language used in formal pleadings.
The rules for affidavits are set out in the court rules for the Superior, Circuit and District courts.
Swearing an affidavit
Before you swear the oath, they will check that you have read the affidavit and fully understand its contents.
You will be asked to raise an appropriate religious text to your beliefs, such as the Bible, and to repeat the words of the oath. If you do not want to swear an oath on the Bible, you can make an affirmation. You then sign the affidavit.
The Commissioner for Oaths will verify that the affidavit was properly sworn by completing and signing a jurat on the affidavit.
Submitting the affidavit to court
Once the affidavit has been sworn, it can then be submitted as evidence to the court.
To do this, you lodge the affidavit with the appropriate court office and pay the relevant fee (see ‘Affidavit fees’ below). You then send a duplicate copy of the affidavit to the other party in the case.
Swearing by video-conference
It is possible to swear affidavits for use in the Circuit Court, High Court, Court of Appeal or Supreme Court by video-conference where the witness cannot attend in person with the Commissioner for Oaths or practising solicitor who is to verify the affidavit.
It may not be practicable for example due to health issues, which affect the ability to meet in person. The reason for the inability to meet must be set out in the affidavit.
When swearing an affidavit by video-conference:
- The Commissioner for Oaths or practising solicitor must have a copy of the affidavit itself, any documents being attached to it (exhibits), and an identification document for the witness
- Both the witness and the Commissioner for Oaths or practising solicitor must be able to see and hear one another
- The Commissioner for Oaths or practising solicitor must confirm that an appropriate religious text is available to the witness
- The witness must go through every page to be included in the affidavit and make the necessary oath
- The jurat will state that the affidavit was made by video-conference
The affidavit is then sent to the Commissioner for Oaths or practising solicitor who confirms compliance and countersigns the affidavit.
When swearing an affidavit in person or by video-conference, the steps involved should be explained to you by the Commissioner for Oaths or practising solicitor.
You need to pay a fee to lodge an affidavit with the relevant court office.
The fees are:
- €15 for the District Court and Circuit Court
- €20 for the High Court and Supreme Court
Your solicitor and barrister will also charge fees for their services as may the solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths who verifies the affidavit.
You should get legal advice for more detailed information.