Swearing online, a good thing
CEO & Founder of Agreeable
Up until now it has been impossible for anybody in Ireland to swear an affidavit online. That’s changing. (For those of us who are not legal professionals: an affidavit is a sworn written statement from a witness in a case.)
New rules of the Superior Court set out that the person swearing the affidavit and the person witnessing it can be in remote locations using video conferencing tech such as Zoom. The Law Society in Ireland had been arguing in favour of this on the grounds that it is happening in other common-law countries and it is particularly helpful for people who can’t easily travel because of illness, pandemics, or simply residing abroad.
There are some additional rules around providing remote affidavits. These include:
Before or during the video call the solicitor must be provided with a copy of the affidavit.
- The solicitor must satisfy themselves as to the identity of the deponent.
- The despondent must be able to see and hear the solicitor and the appropriate “sacred text”.
- The despondent must show original verification documents and each page of the affidavit and any exhibits.
- The despondent then signs the documents and sends them to the solicitor who completes the “jurat” (a document detailing the affidavit).
The Law Society informs us that unfortunately only affidavits can be progressed remotely but statutory declarations cannot. Hopefully this will change in the future.
The Law Society is also hopeful that “statements of truth” will at times replace affidavits for another reason:
“The Law Society advocates for the introduction of statements of truth, not only for reasons of cost and convenience, but so as to avoid taking affidavit evidence on the basis of a religious oath, a requirement that appears increasingly anachronistic in modern Ireland.”
Ultimately it would be easier and faster if the entire process could be conducted online. This would benefit everybody. A combination of electronic signatures, video witnessing, and workflow management would be an ideal solution.