Q&As

How do you swear an oath during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic where there may be problems with a solicitor being physically present? Can it be sworn virtually with the individual and solicitor both signing electronically or are wet signatures required?

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Produced in partnership with Matthew Watson of XXIV Old Buildings
Published on LexisPSL on 06/04/2020

The following Private Client Q&A Produced in partnership with Matthew Watson of XXIV Old Buildings provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • How do you swear an oath during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic where there may be problems with a solicitor being physically present? Can it be sworn virtually with the individual and solicitor both signing electronically or are wet signatures required?

At present, no measures have been enacted specifically to deal with swearing affidavits in circumstances where the deponent and the officer administering the oath are required to avoid unnecessary social contact. However, the Law Society will be providing guidance on this issue imminently. Since publication of this Q&A, the Law Society has published: Our position on the use of virtual execution and e-signature during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Thought should be given, in the first instance, to whether a sworn affidavit is strictly necessary. The court has a general power to control evidence and could exceptionally dispense with an affidavit (where it might otherwise be required) in favour of a witness statement: CPR 32.1(1)(b) and (c). A party could also apply for permission to rely on a ‘defective’ affidavit: CPR PD 32, para 25. Depending on the circumstances, the court may permit the filing of an approved, but unsworn, affidavit provided the deponent undertakes to swear the affidavit as soon as practicable after social distancing restrictions are lifted.

Absent of any new measure, or any order in the particular proceedings dispensing with the need for a sworn affidavit, the general rules continue to a

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