Friday, 17 January 2020

What Is a Statutory Declaration?

Written by Eamon Fraser-Crooks

Reading Time: 2 minutesReading Time: 2 minutes

A statutory declaration is a written statement which the maker declares to be true. It can be used where other evidence is not available to affirm the truthfulness of the statements being made. Many government agencies and tribunals request statutory declarations as proof of claimed facts. However, they also have relevance to the private sector. Some instances where you may need to make one are:

  • When legally changing your name
  • To affirm the authenticity of a document
  • When applying for a visa
  • To prove your identity

Making a Statutory Declaration

Statutory declarations must be in a defined format. Further, an authorised witness needs to sign your statutory declaration for it to be valid. State/territory and commonwealth laws set out the rules for the making of statutory declarations. This article will only look at the Commonwealth rules. However, the Department of Justice or Attorney-General in each state or territory can provide general guidance on the local rules. Whether you need a state/territory or Commonwealth declaration will depend on why you need it.

State/Territory or Commonwealth?

The type of declaration you need depends on the purpose. If the declaration relates to a Commonwealth matter or the Australian Capital Territory you’ll need a Commonwealth statutory declaration. This includes declarations submitted to Commonwealth agencies and tribunals, for example Centrelink and the Fair Work Commission. If you’re not sure which declaration you need you should ask the body that you will submit it to for advice.

Format and Content

A statutory declaration needs to include a number of items to be valid. These items are listed in Schedule 1 of the Statutory Declarations Regulations 2018 (Cth). A statutory declaration form is provided by the Attorney-Generals Department which makes it easier to write valid declarations. It is a good idea to use this form when writing a statutory declaration to make sure it contains all the required elements.

Signing and Witnessing

An authorised witness needs to witness and sign the declaration for it to be valid. The list of authorised witnesses is quite long and includes many types of professionals. However, these people need to be able to practice in Australia to be an authorised witness.

If your business engages a business lawyer they can witness your declaration. An overseas notary public can also act as an authorised witness. A notary public is someone who can witness documents, administer oaths, and perform other administrative functions. Even if their title is not notary public, if they can perform these functions in their own country then they can witness the declaration.

Conclusion

A statutory declaration is a document which formally declares that a statement is true. Because it is a formal legal document, it is important to ensure that the content of the declaration is true (lying in a statutory declaration is an offence). If you need help writing a statutory declaration or have concerns about one, it might be worth consulting with a lawyer so that they can help you to ensure you comply with all the rules.

Don’t know where to start? Contact us on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace.

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