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Commissioners of oaths are persons who are empowered under provincial legislation to administer and witness the swearing of oaths or solemn affirmations in the taking of an affidavit for any potential legal matter. Commissioners of oaths are also empowered to witness any declaration as required under a statute. The person swearing an oath, making an affirmation or making a declaration is called a deponent or declarant. A commissioner of oaths only certifies that the required oath or affirmation or declaration has been properly administered.
Commissioners of oaths do not certify the truth of the statements contained in a document; which remains the responsibility of declarants or deponents themselves.In most provinces and states, a commissioner of oath must administer the oath or declaration in the manner prescribed by law. This requires that the deponent be physically present before the commissioner of oaths. Also, the commissioner of oaths must be satisfied about the authenticity of the deponent’s or declarant’s identity and signature before a he or she can sign the document themselves. The deponent’s or declarant’s signature can usually be confirmed through comparing the signature on a piece of identification such as a driver’s licence or on a provincial health insurance card.
Types of Oaths
Where an oath is being witnessed by a commissioner of oaths, the deponent is required to confirm the following: “Do you swear that the contents of this affidavit as subscribed by you are true? So help you God”.
If this type of oath is not preferred, deponents may instead affirm by responding ‘yes’ to: “Do you solemnly affirm and declare that the contents of this affidavit as subscribed by you are true?”.
Where a solemn declaration is required instead, the deponent must declare in the positive to: “Do you make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing it to be true and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath”.
In every case, the deponent must be physically present before the commissioner of oaths.