What is an Affidavit?

Af·fi·da·vit

ˌafəˈdāvit/

noun

LAW

  1. a written statement confirmed by oath or affirmation, for use as evidence in court.

Affidavits are used frequently and for many different reasons, but - unlike a contract or agreement - many people don’t have a good handle on the definition of an affidavit. Chances are, you’ve likely already signed an affidavit at some point in your life. 


An affidavit is "a written statement of facts, sworn to and signed by a deponent before a notary public or some other authority having the power to witness an oath.” In other words, when you sign an affidavit, you’re simply attesting, under law, that you swear a statement written in the affidavit is true.

A statutory declaration also is "a written statement of facts, sworn to and signed by a deponent before a notary public or some other authority having the power to witness an oath.”

The difference between an Affidavit and a Statutory Declaration has to do with where it is used.

A good way to think of an affidavit is as a sort of written court testimony. Where, in a court of law, you’d have to place your hand on a Bible (or Quran, or the Bhagavad Gita, or the Guru Granth Sahib, all of which are permitted holy books in Ontario) and swear that you’re telling the truth and nothing but the truth, on an affidavit, you simply do this in writing. You’re under oath, but you’re on paper.  This is the difference, in Ontario, between an Affidavit and a Statutory Declaration ~ Affidavits are used in court proceedings, while Statutory Declarations are statements under Oath used outside of court proceedings.

 Affidavit form - Family Court

Affidavit form - Family Court

In Ontario, both Commissioners of Oaths and Notary Publics are permitted to accept an Oath; in other words, it is permitted for either a Commissioner of Oaths or a Notary Public to accept and certify your signature when you sign an Affidavit affirming the facts contained in the Affidavit are true.  Brampton Notary Services requires, in all cases, that you provide two pieces of personal identification at the time you sign your Affidavit, one of which must be a valid and unexpired photo identification document such as a driver's license or a passport.

Useful Resource:  How to Write an Affidavit.

Summary:  Notaries are authorised to administer oaths and to take declarations. Affidavits are used for the purpose of giving written evidence in judicial proceedings. Where the execution of deeds or other facts has to be proved otherwise than in court, the proof may be made by means of a statutory declaration. We can advise on the correct form of affidavit or statutory declaration for particular purposes and, if necessary, draw these up for our clients.