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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 the 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.
The details in 'Court details' and 'Title of proceedings' will be the same on all documents used in a particular case. The 'Filing details' will depend on which party the affidavit is made on behalf of. Usually this will be the plaintiff or the defendant. For example, if a witness is giving affidavit evidence for the defendant, the filing details would be:
The next page of an affidavit contains the evidence. Affidavits should be divided into numbered paragraphs. Each paragraph should be in date order, from the oldest event to the most recent event.
Affidavits should be written in the first person: that is from the point of view of the person making the affidavit, and using the word 'I'. If the affidavit refers to a conversation, you should write down the exact words used by the parties.
If you can't remember the exact words that were used you can say:
The affidavit should state things that the person making the affidavit has direct knowledge of. This means what they saw and heard.
Affidavits should not be too long. Some courts may reject an affidavit if it contains too much irrelevant information. Remember when you make an affidavit:
An affidavit should not include:
Affidavits should be typed (double line spaced and 12 point font) or clearly hand written. The websites for most courts and tribunals will have affidavit forms.
It is sometimes helpful to attach a document to the affidavit if it supports the fact you are trying to prove. The document is then called an 'annexure'.
Each annexure that is attached must be numbered. For example; Annexure 'A', Annexure 'B', Annexure 'C'. You should also give a brief description of what is being attached in the text of your affidavit.
Each annexure must also have a statement written on its front page that says:
The authorised person signs each annexure after this statement.
If there are a large number of documents, or another item that would be difficult to attach to the affidavit, you can make it an 'exhibit'. An exhibit is referred to in an affidavit by a number or letter (for example "Exhibit A"). An exhibit is served (given) with an affidavit on the other party, but is not usually filed with the court.
If you are not sure what to write in an affidavit, or whether to attach any documents you should get
You need to take the affidavit to an authorised person before you sign it. The authorised person will ask you to 'swear' or 'affirm' that the content of the affidavit is true, and then ask you to sign the end of the affidavit, and the bottom of each page of the affidavit.
After they have witnessed you signing the affidavit, the authorised person will also sign the end of the affidavit, the bottom of 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.
The person making the affidavit can choose whether to 'swear' or 'affirm' the truth of the affidavit.
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 at the court where the matter is being heard.
Make sure the affidavit is filed and served by the date ordered by the court. The court might not allow the affidavit to be used as evidence if it is filed or served late.