Earlier this month, President of the High Court ,Kelly reiterated that a bible or other religious text appropriate to the deponent’s religious belief must be produced for the deponent when the oath is being administered. The absence of such a text cannot be overcome by allowing the deponent to affirm rather than swear the affidavit. Under current legislation (Oaths Act 1888), an affirmation is only appropriate where the deponent objects to being sworn and states:
“as the ground of such objection, either that he has no religious belief, or that the taking of an oath is contrary to his religious belief…”.
President Kelly emphasised the role of the oath and the importance of trust in the solicitors’ profession. In administering an oath, a solicitor is exercising his/her duty under statute and as an officer of the court.
Practising solicitors have the power to administer oaths (section 72 of Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994) and a bible or appropriate religious text should be available for this purpose.
|72.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, every solicitor who holds a practising certificate which is in force shall, subject to any condition to which that practising certificate is subject under the Solicitors Acts, 1954 to 1994 (in this section referred to as a “relevant condition”), have all the powers conferred by any enactment or statutory instrument (within the meaning of the Statutory Instruments Act, 1947 ) on a commissioner for oaths (including section 24 of the Stamp Duties Management Act, 1891) and any reference to such a commissioner in any such enactment or statutory instrument, whether passed or made before or after the commencement of this section, shall include a reference to such a solicitor, unless the context otherwise requires.