A new statutory instrument, the Rules of the Superior Courts (Affidavits) 2021 (S.I. No. 127/2021), allowing for the remote witnessing of affidavits came into effect yesterday, 31 March 2021.
These Rules amend Order 40, Rule 9 of the Rules of the Superior Court (“RSC”) to provide that, in addition to in-person swearing, affidavits may be sworn remotely by video conference in circumstances where “it is not practicable for the deponent to attend in the physical presence of such officer” (an officer being a person who is empowered to administer oaths).
These amendments are welcomed by practitioners, especially in a time where Covid-19 restrictions remain in place and where social distancing will likely remain part of daily life for some time.
Where an affidavit is sworn remotely, the following requirements must be met:
- The affidavit must briefly state why it is not practicable for the deponent to attend in the physical presence of the officer
- The officer must be provided with a hard or soft copy of the affidavit and all exhibits referred to therein in advance of the video conference
- The officer must be satisfied that the identity of the deponent has been established in advance of the video conference in circumstances where the identity of the deponent is unknown to the officer (Order 40, Rule 19(1)(c) RSC)
- The officer must be satisfied that the video conference facility enables the deponent to see and hear the officer and vice versa
The officer must be satisfied that the appropriate sacred text for taking the oath is available
- During the video conference and within sight and hearing of the officer, the deponent shall produce the original of any relevant document intended to be used to verify the deponent’s identity; shall identify each page of the affidavit and all exhibits referred to therein and shall swear and sign those documents where appropriate
- The sworn affidavit and any exhibits shall be sent to the officer for attestation immediately after the video conference
- The officer must be satisfied that the document(s) correspond with that which was produced during the video conference before attesting the affidavit and signing any exhibits. Further, where relevant, the officer shall sign and append to the affidavit the certified copy of the document used to verify the deponent’s identity
- The jurat or swearing block of the affidavit shall indicate the date on which the affidavit was made by the deponent, the place at which the officer was when taking the affidavit and the fact that the affidavit was sworn using a video conference.
Further information on the new rules and the conditions to be met can be found here