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Affidavits and statutory declarations

What is an affidavit?

An affidavit is a written form of evidence used in court proceedings. An affidavit sets out the facts as you remember them. In some legal matters, the evidence you want the court to hear about your matter must be in an affidavit (e.g. family law matters).

Is there a special way I should write my affidavit?

When you write an affidavit, you should set it out in paragraphs that are numbered. You can also use headings. Before writing your affidavit, contact the court for the correct form of affidavit to use.

Federal Circuit Court Practice Direction No 2 of 2017 made important changes to the management of interim proceedings in the Federal Circuit Court, including limits on the length of affidavits (10 pages) and the number of annexures (5) to affidavits filed in interim proceedings.  

How do I sign an affidavit? Do I need to sign it in front of anyone?

Before signing the affidavit you need to make sure you have a qualified witness present. The qualified witness is either a Justice of the Peace, Commissioner for Declarations or a lawyer.

In front of the qualified witness, you must either have the affidavit sworn or affirmed as being the truth. 

When you sign your affidavit, you place your signature where it says 'the deponent'. A deponent means the person making the affidavit. The qualified witness will then sign their name and give details of their position.

What is the difference between having the document sworn or affirmed?

If you have the affidavit sworn, this means that you are solemnly promising to tell the truth and you hold a bible or other religious text at the time of having the affidavit sworn.

If having a document sworn is against your religious beliefs or you do not have any religious beliefs, you can take an affirmation. This means that you are affirming that the document you have made and are now signing is the truth.

What is a statutory declaration?

A statutory declaration is a statement of fact made by a declarant (the person making the declaration) conscientiously (or carefully) believed to be true.

It is affirmed by the declarant and not sworn.

You also need to sign the statutory declaration in front of a qualified witness such as a Justice of the Peace, Commissioner for Declarations or a lawyer.

Do I need legal advice?

You may need legal advice if you are not sure what can be included in your affidavit for it to be admissible in court.

Where can I get legal advice

Legal Aid Queensland may provide legal advice about what can be included in affidavits and statutory declarations. We cannot prepare, sign or witness any documents.

The following organisations may also be able to give legal advice on your matter.

Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to see if they can help with your matter.

Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private solicitor for advice or representation.

Who else can help?

These organisations may also be able to assist with your matter. They do not provide legal advice.

Department of Justice and Attorney-General maintains a list of Justices of the Peace and Commissioners for Declarations in Queensland.

Queensland courts provide forms for statutory declarations available for download from their website.

Family Court of Australia provides information on how to prepare an affidavit for family court matters.

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