A statutory declaration is a written document signed by someone declaring certain statements as true. The statements may concern any matter within the personal knowledge of the individual making the declaration, i.e., the declarant. The document must be signed before a person authorized by law to take a declaration. The United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada have laws establishing specific requirements for a valid statutory declaration. Requirements vary for each jurisdiction.
Jurisdictions authorize certain persons to take a statutory declaration. This person serves as a witness to the signing of the document. Laws also typically require the witness to verify the identity of the individual making the statement, check that he or she is competent, and inform the declarant that there are penalties for making a false statement. The person serving as a witness must provide a full name, address, and qualifications in the document. The witness must also sign and date the document.
There are criminal penalties for those who intentionally make a false statement in a statutory declaration. Australia’s Statutory Declarations Act of 1959, for example, imposes imprisonment of up to four years for an intentional false statement. Other jurisdictions impose fines and imprisonment.
A statutory declaration must be in the form prescribed by law. Australia’s form provides a section for the name, address, and occupation of the declarant. Next, the form has a section to insert the declarant’s statements, which must be listed in numbered paragraphs. The final paragraph asserts that all statements are true and includes language acknowledging that the declarant understands that making a false statement is a punishable offense. The declarant then signs and dates the document along with the authorized witness.
Jurisdictions vary in how a person may use a statutory declaration. Persons have used this document as proof of ownership of personal property, to change a name, to show loss of employment, transfer property, and for various other purposes. A declaration may also be used in court. A judge decides how much weight to afford such a document, however.
For a statutory declaration to be valid, it must be filled in completely. The form must also comply with the requirements of the jurisdiction where an individual intends to use such document. Free declaration forms are often available through governmental websites. A person may also draft a statutory declaration form. As long as such form complies with a jurisdiction’s requirements, it will usually be deemed valid.