A new court rule which permits a deponent to swear an affidavit remotely comes into effect on 31 March 2021.

The Rules of the Superior Courts (Affidavits) 2021 amends Order 40 of the Rules of the Superior Courts. It provides for the swearing of affidavits by video conference where it is not practicable for the deponent to attend in the physical presence of an officer. The reasons for the use of video conference swearing must be referenced briefly in the affidavit. The conditions to be fulfilled for swearing an affidavit in this manner are prescribed in the rule.

These include that the officer be provided in advance or on the video conference, with a copy of the affidavit and copies of any exhibits. In particular they require an officer to be provided with a certified copy of the deponent's identity documentation (where required). The officer should be satisfied that the video conference facility enables the deponent to see and hear the officer and to be seen and heard by the officer. The jurat must specifically refer to the fact that the affidavit was sworn using video conference and the officer shall satisfy himself that the appropriate sacred text (eg bible) for taking the oath is available to the deponent.

The amendment to the rule is a welcome development particularly during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last twelve months the ongoing pandemic restrictions have highlighted the difficulties associated with necessitating the physical presence of someone swearing an affidavit and the need to find a workaround to the challenges posed by this.

The use of video conferencing to enable swearing remotely is consistent with recent legislative developments (the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020) permitting remote hearings in certain cases. The evolving use of technology in court processes and procedures is likely to be one of the enduring beneficial legacies of the pandemic.

Click here for link to new rule.