When a person needs to assert that certain facts are true, they will make a statutory declaration which is a written statement of fact that the statement they are making is true to the best of their knowledge. Governed by the Statutory Declarations Act 1835, a statutory declaration is similar to an affidavit, but it has a much broader application than the latter. Where an affidavit is a statement that is filed at court the statutory declaration can be used for a number of purposes. It also differs in that you do not swear a statutory declaration nor is a religious text needed.
When do you need a statutory declaration?
- When there are no documents to prove something is true
The statutory declaration is a way to get around the fact that specific documentary evidence is not available. For example, it might be that a person is unable to prove their national identity, or whether or not they are married.
- If you’re changing your name
The statutory declaration is also used in the UK as a way people can adopt a new name so it can be used legitimately on documents such as passports and driving licences.
- When dealing with a will
Banks and other financial institutions may need a statutory declaration to enable a relatively low value asset to be transferred to the executors of a will, or others who are entitled to deal with the estate of a deceased person.
- In insolvency cases
Company directors might use a statutory declaration to declare insolvency during a voluntary liquidation process.
- When importing or exporting
A statutory declaration may be made to affirm the provenance and nature of goods to be imported and exported.
- If applying for a patent
Such statements, affirming originality, are also used as part of a patent application.
Who can make a statutory declaration?
Under the Statutory Declarations Act 1835 a statutory declaration can be made before anyone who is authorised by law to administer oaths. Solicitors in England and Wales holding a current practising certificate have the same powers as a commissioner for oaths for the purpose of certifying a statutory declaration, and in most cases it will be a solicitor who will be used to witness the signing of the declaration but it could also be a justice of the peace. In the armed forces someone of the rank of major and above, or the equivalent can also authenticate a statutory declaration as can British diplomatic and consular officers posted abroad.
It must be stressed that it is not up to the person making the statutory declaration to investigate whether the statement being made is the truth. Their role is to affirm that they have listened to the declaration being made by a person and then certifying the fact. If it does turn out to be untrue then the person making the declaration could be prosecuted for perjury.
Also statutory declarations need to be made independently from the thing they are needed for. This means that if your solicitor is working on your insolvency case, or on a will you’re involved in then they can’t witness your declaration. If they are not an impartial authorised person the declaration would result in being invalid.
Find out more about who can sign a statutory declaration here.
How do you write a statutory declaration?
Section 20 of the 1835 Act prescribes that the wording of the statutory declaration to be given is set out in the schedule to that Act.
This means that all statutory declarations follow a set structure and contain very specific wording. If it doesn’t follow the prescribed format the document will be invalid.
- the declarator’s full name and address
- a statement that they “do solemnly and sincerely declare”
- a statement that the things they say are true.
The form of the statutory declaration is prescribed in the schedule to the Act:
“I (full name), do solemnly and sincerely declare that the contents of this declaration are true. And I make this declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declarations Act 1835.”
Declared by [full name required here]
At… (this is left blank for solicitor/commissioner/notary public etc to insert address)
On this [day] of [month] 2021
Before me……(this is also left blank for solicitor/commissioner/notary public etc to sign)
Qualification of witness authorised to administer oaths… (and again left blank for solicitor/commissioner/notary public etc to complete).
If a statutory declaration is received where this wording is not included, it will not usually be treated as an acceptable statement of fact for the purpose for which it was intended.
A standard form is used for a statutory declaration; one copy will be given to the applicant and the other is held on file.
How much does a statutory declaration cost?
You can find a statutory declaration form as a template provided by government departments which can be downloaded from the relevant websites such as, https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/statutory-declarations
It will provide all the instructions you need to fill it in in the correct manner and you can print it by hand or complete it online.
Section 19 of the 1835 Act advises that the fee for administering a statutory declaration is due and payable once the declaration has been made. Basically, you pay the solicitor or person authorised to authenticate the declaration straight away.
The cost of a statutory declaration should be just £5, with an additional £2 for each of any exhibits that may be included.
Do you need to know more about making a statutory declaration? At Wafer Phillips we are always here to help. You can find more information by heading to our statutory declarations page or get in touch with us today.