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An affidavit is a written statement where the contents are sworn or affirmed to be true. Affidavits must be signed in front of a witness who is an "authorised person". An authorised person is usually a justice of the peace (JP), a solicitor or barrister. After witnessing your signature, the witness must also sign your affidavit.
Affidavits are used in court as evidence. In some cases, if you make an affidavit you may not need to give evidence in person. In other cases you may still have to go to court to answer questions about the information in your affidavit. For a helpful tool to use when writing an affidavit, see Checklist: Writing affidavits.
When writing an affidavit you should consider:
The person making an affidavit is called the 'deponent'. An affidavit can be made by:
In many civil court cases in NSW, the same form is used to make affidavits. The following example shows the first page of an affidavit used in a civil case in NSW.
Affidavits should be written in the first person: that is, from your point of view. If your affidavit refers to a conversation, you should use the exact words spoken by the people in the conversation.
Your affidavit should only state things that you have direct knowledge of. This means what you saw and heard.
Remember when you make an affidavit:
Affidavits should be typed (double line spaced and 12 point font) or clearly hand written. The websites for most courts and tribunals have affidavit forms that you can download.
An affidavit should not include:
All this information may be irrelevant, unnecessary or offensive and the court cannot consider it. The court may reject an affidavit if it contains too much irrelevant, unnecessary, or offensive information.
Do not include any information or documents that suggest or prove you have committed a criminal offence. This may be used against you if you are charged.
It is sometimes helpful to attach a document to the affidavit if it supports something you are trying to prove. This document is called an 'annexure'.
Each annexure that is attached must be identified. For example; Annexure 'A', Annexure 'B', Annexure 'C'.
You must include a brief description of the document in the text of your affidavit.
Each annexure must also have a cover page with a signed statement by the authorised witness that says:
Each annexure, including cover pages, must be numbered consecutively with the affidavit.
Annexures must be filed and served with your affidavit.
If you need to attach a large number of documents to your affidavit, or a number of large documents, you can prepare an 'exhibit'.
To do this you must include:
Make sure you number each page of your exhibit consecutively.
An exhibit is served (given) with an affidavit on the other party, but is not usually filed with the court.
Make sure the documents you attach to your affidavit or include in your exhibit are clear and easy to read. If they are not, the court may not consider them.
If you are not sure what to write in an affidavit, or whether to attach any documents you should get
You need to take your affidavit to an authorised person before you sign it. The authorised person will ask you to swear (religious oath) or affirm (non-religious oath) that the contents of your affidavit is true, and then ask you to sign each page of your affidavit.
After they have witnessed your signing the affidavit, the authorised person will also sign each page and any annexures or exhibits.
If you need to correct any errors, cross out the error and put your initials next to the change. The witness must also put their initials next to the change.
Swearing is also known as swearing an oath. A person who believes in a god can swear by their god that the affidavit is true. The authorised person may offer them a Bible or other relevant holy book to hold while they swear the oath.
An affirmation is a solemn declaration of truth, without any reference to a god.
You only need to file and serve the affidavit when you are ordered to do so by the court. If you are ordered to file an affidavit, you can do this online or at the registry where the court is located.
Make sure your affidavit is filed and served by the date ordered by the court. The court might not allow your affidavit to be used as evidence if it is filed or served late.