Statutory declaration

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A statutory declaration is a legal document defined under the law of certain Commonwealth nations. It is similar to a statement made under oath, however, it is not sworn.

Statutory declarations are commonly used to allow a person to declare something to be true for the purposes of satisfying some legal requirement or regulation when no other evidence is available. They are thus similar to affidavits (which are made on oath).

Depending on jurisdiction, statutory declarations can be used for:

  • Declarations of identity, nationality, marital status, etc. when documentary evidence is unavailable.
  • Declaring the intention to change one's name.
  • Affirming the provenance and nature of goods for export or import.
  • Statements of originality for patent applications.

Australia[edit]

Australian law defines a statutory declaration as a written statement declared to be true in the presence of an authorised witness. The Statutory Declarations Act 1959 governs the use of statutory declarations in matters involving the law of the Australian Commonwealth, Australian Capital Territory, and other territories but not including the Northern Territory.

Any person within the jurisdiction of this law may make a statutory declaration in relation to any matter. The declaration may be used in connection with matters of law, including judicial proceedings, but what weight is given to the declaration is a matter for the judge to decide.

Statutory declarations must be made in a prescribed form and witnessed by a person as specified in the Statutory Declarations Regulations (1993). Prescribed witnesses include legal and medical practitioners, Justices of the Peace, notary publics, police officers, military officers, registered members of certain professional organisations (i.e. National Tax Accountant's Association and Institution of Engineers Australia), and certain other Commonwealth employees.

Intentionally making a false statement as a statutory declaration is a crime equivalent to perjury, and punishable by fines and/or a prison sentence of up to four years.

The states of Australia each have their own laws regarding statutory declarations.

Canada[edit]

In Canadian jurisdictions, statutory declarations, like affidavits, are sworn statements of facts written down and sworn to by the declarant before individuals who are authorized to administer oaths, except that they are normally used outside of court settings. In federal proceedings, the form is governed by s. 41 of the Canada Evidence Act. Similar provision is made by the various provinces for use in proceedings within their respective jurisdictions.[1]

A person who makes a false declaration can be charged with perjury under s. 131 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

United Kingdom[edit]

Statutory declarations can be used as a method of legally changing one's name.[2] They may be used by UK financial institutions to enable an asset of relatively small value (usually less than £15,000) to be transferred to the executors of a will or other persons legally entitled to deal with or benefit from the estate of a person who has died.

Bereavement Advice: Help and understanding from the Halifax and Bank of Scotland [3]

“Statutory declaration (England) A formal statement made in a prescribed form witnessed by a solicitor or Commissioner for Oaths under the Statutory Declarations Act 1835.”

England and Wales[edit]

Under the Statutory Declarations Act 1835,[4] the defendant’s declaration can be made before anyone who is authorised by law to hear it (for example, a solicitor), or before any Justice of the Peace. The person who hears the declaration need not enquire into the truth of it. That person’s function is limited to hearing the declaration, and certifying that he or she has done so by signing it. If the declaration turns out to be untrue, the defendant making it may be punished for perjury.

The form of the statutory declaration can be found in the schedule to the act:

I A.B. do solemnly and sincerely declare, that and I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true, and by virtue of the provisions of an Act made and passed in the year of the reign of his present Majesty, intituled “An Act” (here insert the title of this Act).

Certain institutions may release monies without a grant of probate being produced if the amount held by the deceased was small. Apply to the institutions to see if they will release monies without a grant of probate [5]

Criminal Procedure Rules Statutory Declaration Form (Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980, section 14; Criminal Procedure Rules, rule 37.11)

Legal Executive may administer a statutory declaration [6]

Passport policy - statutory declarations[edit]

A statutory declaration is a written statement of fact that is signed in the presence of:

  • a solicitor
  • a notary of the public
  • a justice of the peace
  • a commissioner for oaths
  • a councillor (Scotland only. Documents on or after 10 December 2007)
  • any other qualified person.

Under the provisions of the Legal Services Act 2007 solicitors in England and Wales holding a current practising certificate have the same powers as a commissioner for oaths for the purpose of authenticating a statutory declaration. Officers of the armed services with the rank of major, lieutenant-commander, or squadron leader, and above, and British diplomatic and consular officers in post abroad may authenticate a statutory declaration.[7]

References[edit]