Notarising Affidavits. Our Advice? Tell The Truth! Louise Explains
One of the many services we at AtkinsonNotary offer is the notarisation of Affidavit documents for use in Courts overseas.
By swearing an Affidavit, you are putting yourself in perils of punishment for the crime of Perjury, if ANY of the statements written in it are not true. In Malaysia and Singapore and some other countries, by the way, those penalties include a severe caning [for a man].
In all Countries that I know of the crime can result in lengthy prison sentences and in one or two states of the USA it can even result in the Death Penalty.
So, it’s not a trivial matter and you need to take care!
More specifically, I suggest you do not trust your Lawyers abroad to correct an incomplete document once you return it to them.
So, if you have an Affidavit that you require to be signed in the presence of the Notary then please note that if your Affidavit refers to exhibits [enclosures/attachments] then the Affidavit cannot be sworn or Notarised if the documents referred to are not with the Affidavit.
For example, we have seen a client who had been holidaying in America and unfortunately had witnessed a serious criminal act. [Man brandishing a gun in the course of a street “mugging”]. Our client had taken some photographs of the incident and passed them to the Police. Our client returned to the UK and was later asked by a Lawyer in America to swear an Affidavit to confirm what she had seen on that day and to also confirm that the photographs she had taken at that time were genuine.
The Affidavit was prepared by the Lawyer and sent to our client to bring to us for her to sign and then swear in the Notary’s presence. Having read the Affidavit it became apparent that it referred to the many photographs our client had taken as being “attached” but no photographs were there at our meeting. Our client confirmed the photographs were handed over to the police and she no longer had them.
We accordingly contacted the American Lawyer who had prepared the Affidavit to find out why no photographs had been sent with the Affidavit – the Lawyer informed us that he had the photos and they were sat on his desk.
We politely asked how our client was supposed to swear as the truth that photos were attached when the photos were not here! – Unbelievably [to us at any rate], the lawyer indicated that it was his intention to attach the photographs to the document once it has been sworn and notarised! – “Really” was our reply – “you are asking our client to risk the penalty of perjury by swearing a document which you as her Lawyer know is not true.”
Apart from telling a lie in our office, what if the wrong photographs were to be attached later by mistake!
After the Lawyer realised his error the photos were sent over accordingly to enable our client to proceed with the Affidavit. [Note from Chris Atkinson. – I don’t think he believed for a moment that he had made any error, he just thought we were being unbearably fussy.]
The point I am trying to make is that you cannot swear a document to be true if it is not!
If exhibits are referred to then the exhibits must be present at the time of the swearing – they cannot be attached at a later date. You cannot take that risk [and the Notary will not!]
Once a document has been sworn to and Notarised – stamped and sealed – it should not be tampered with in any way.
So if you have an Affidavit that you need to deal with in the presence of a Notary then please make sure all exhibits referred to are also brought to the meeting. This will avoid any unnecessary delays in getting the job done.
If in doubt then please do contact me or Chris Atkinson to discuss further.
As always, Please do contact me or Chris whenever you need Notarial certification or Legalisation for your Documents– at http://www.atkinsonnotary.com – or phone me on 0113 816 0116 (internationally 0044 113 8160116)