In Zoom we trust - a new statutory instrument introduces a number of changes to the procedure relating to affidavits including remote swearing by way of video-conference in specific circumstances.
On 31 March 2021, a new statutory instrument, the Rules of the Superior Courts (Affidavits) 2021 (S.I. No. 127/2021), will come into force, amending Order 40 of the Rules of the Superior Courts. The new statutory instrument introduces a number of changes to the procedure relating to affidavits. Of particular interest to practitioners is the introduction of remote swearing of affidavits by way of video-conference in specific circumstances.
An affidavit must be sworn before an appropriate officer, generally a practising solicitor or a commissioner for oaths. Traditionally, this swearing had to be done in the physical presence of the officer. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity for social distancing, the new rules provide for swearing to be completed remotely in certain circumstances. If swearing an affidavit remotely, the affidavit must refer briefly to the reasons why it is not practicable for the swearing to be done in the physical presence of the officer.
Order 40, rule 9 of the Rules of the Superior Courts sets out a number of conditions for remote swearing:
The new rules do not specify any particular software programme to be used for the video-conference.
The introduction of remote swearing will be a welcome change for practitioners and deponents alike. The new procedure is likely to assist deponents travelling in remote parts of the world, deponents self-isolating or house-bound deponents. Swearing affidavits by video-conference is, however, unlikely to become the norm in the near future, given the requirement to provide reasons why it is not practicable for the swearing to be done in the physical presence of the officer.
The procedures surrounding the swearing of affidavits are likely to be further reformed with the introduction of Statements of Truth when the relevant parts of the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 are enacted.
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