The Oaths and Affirmations Act 2018 (Vic) (the Act) will commence on 1 March 2019. The Act consolidates the laws in Victoria relating to oaths, affirmations, affidavits and statutory declarations and establishes a scheme for the certification of copies of documents.
The Act repeals Divisions 1 – 11 of Part IV and all of Part V of the Evidence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1958 and makes a number of changes that will take effect from 1 March 2019.
Some of the key changes and points to note relating to affidavits and statutory declarations are as follows:
- The standard requirements for swearing an affidavit in Victoria have not been changed. However, the Act sets out these requirements in one place, whereas previously, the requirements were spread over a number of acts, regulations and rules.
- If it appears to an authorised affidavit taker that the deponent is illiterate, blind or has a cognitive impairment, the authorised affidavit taker must certify in or below the jurat that they read the affidavit to the deponent.
- The list of people who can take statutory declarations has been increased to include those people authorised under a Commonwealth Act to take a statutory declaration. This includes full time teachers employed at a school or tertiary education institution, nurses and some Australia Post staff.
- A statutory declaration witness may make reasonable modifications to the process of making a statutory declaration if the person making the statutory declaration has a disability that prevents them from doing so in accordance with the Act.
- If it appears to a statutory declaration witness that the person making the statutory declaration is illiterate, blind or has a cognitive impairment, the statutory declaration witness must certify on the face of the statutory declaration that they read the statutory declaration to the person making the statutory declaration.
- The Act also creates a new offence for making a statutory declaration that the person knows to be untrue. The maximum penalty for this offence is five years imprisonment.