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Who can witness my affidavit?

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Quick Summary

  • You can use a Justice of the Peace, Commissioner for taking Affidavits, solicitor, or barrister to witness your affidavit.
  • You should sign the bottom of each page in the presence of your witness, who will sign each page with you.
  • You should then sign the last page in the presence of your witness, who will then sign and seal the document with their credentials.
  • Be sure to take some ID with you to prove who you are to the witness.
  • There may be options to electronically sign or use remote witnessing.

Introduction

When making an application to the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia (‘FCFCOA’), you might be required to supply an affidavit in evidence of the circumstances and facts of your case. This is because there is limited opportunity for you to give a personal account of your evidence in court and submitting evidence by affidavit allows your case to run more quickly and efficiently.

For more information on Preparing an Affidavit, visit the FCFCOA website: https://www.fcfcoa.gov.au/pubs/preparing-affidavit.

Signing an affidavit

It is important to know that, once completed, affidavits must be sworn or affirmed, and then signed, by you (‘the deponent’) in front of a witness who is an “authorised person”.

Invariably across Australia, the most common “authorised person” used for witnessing affidavits is a Justice of the Peace (‘JP’). Being a JP is a voluntary position and there is no charge to you to have a JP witness your affidavit. Alternatively, you can also use a Commissioner for taking Affidavits, a solicitor or barrister. However, we should note that these other “authorised persons” may charge for their services, so it is a good idea to talk about fees with them in your initial meeting.

If you are overseas, a Notary Public or Australian Diplomatic/Consulate Officer can witness your signature.

The purpose of using these “authorised persons” as the witness to your affidavit evidence, and not your neighbour or a family member, is so that they can act to independently and objectively witness documents which will be used for official or legal reasons.

It is an easy mistake to make, but it is critical that you do not take a pre-signed affidavit to an authorised person for witnessing. They must witness you actually signing the document in front of them. You should also take personal identification with you (such as a driver’s licence) to prove to the witness that you are the deponent.

You and the witness should each sign together the bottom of each page in the affidavit, before signing the jurat (the final page) which details your name, the date and location of signing, and the credentials of the witness. Ensure that at least one (1) paragraph of the affidavit evidence is present at the top of the jurat.

Once you have signed the affidavit in front of the witness, they must also sign and seal the document with their credentials. If you are using a JP, ensure that they provide their JP number.

It is important to remember that if you adjust any detail in your affidavit by hand after it has been printed, both you and your witness must initial next to the change.

Finding a witness in your State or Territory

If need help finding a witness for your affidavit, you can search the online directory in your state to find a JP near you. The following links should help you to find an appropriate witness:

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