Bringing or Defending a Civil Case
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2. How to prepare an affidavit or affirmation?

An affidavit or affirmation is a statement of facts made by a person under oath. Generally, this is the means by which the parties or their witnesses submit evidence to the court during the hearing of an interlocutory application (or other kinds of application).

A Catholic or a Christian should make affidavits. People of other religious beliefs or no religious belief should make affirmations. The form used for an affidavit or affirmation is obtainable from the Registries of the High Court and the District Court and the Resource Centre for Unrepresented Litigants (see the last paragraph).

The person who gives written evidence in an affidavit or affirmation is called a deponent. A deponent should only give facts as evidence in his affidavit or affirmation (unless he is an expert witness, who can also give opinion within his expertise as evidence). The evidence given must be within the deponent's personal knowledge. (However, the affidavit or affirmation may contain statements of information or belief if the sources of the information and the grounds of the belief are stated.) It should be noted that a deponent is personally liable for the truthfulness or accuracy of the contents of his affidavit or affirmation. He commits perjury if he knowingly gives false or misleading evidence in his affidavit or affirmation.

The contents of an affidavit or affirmation should be set out in short, numbered paragraphs. The sentences in the paragraphs should be clear and concise. The documents referred to in the affidavit or affirmation should be marked as exhibits (similar to attachments) annexed (attached) to the affidavit or affirmation. The exhibits should be numbered for easy identification.

It is desirable to have a typewritten affidavit or affirmation. If it is hand-written, the deponent should write the words clearly on alternate lines. If an affidavit or affirmation is not legible, the court may order the deponent to put it in a proper form and manner (re do it, so that it is clear and legible). The hearing of the relevant interlocutory or other kinds of application may have to be adjourned for that purpose. (In such a case, the deponent, as the party who causes the adjournment, may be ordered to bear the costs for the time wasted.)

After finalizing the contents of your affidavit/affirmation, your lawyer will arrange for you to swear and sign this document in front of another lawyer who is not involved in your case. Alternatively, you can swear and sign your affidavit/affirmation at the Oaths and Declarations Office of the High Court.

More explanatory notes for preparing an affidavit or affirmation and a sample affidavit / affirmation can be obtained from the Resource Centre for Unrepresented Litigants. Reference should also be made to Practice Direction 10.1 (Affidavit Evidence).

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