How to Write an Affidavit
What is an Affidavit?
An affidavit is a legal document that contains facts that you either swear under oath or affirm to be true. An affidavit is basically the written version of sitting in a witness box in court and giving your evidence to a judge.
Strict rules apply when it comes to drafting an affidavit because judges rely on them for evidence. Therefore you must be careful about what you write, how it should be written, and how it is to be sworn or affirmed.
If you want assistance drafting an affidavit, please call Vancouver Downtown Notary at 778-819-8553 or email us at [email protected].
What do I say in an Affidavit?
An affidavit contains your evidence. Here are three important rules to remember when drafting your affidavit:
- It must only contain facts;
- Everything you say in your affidavit must be true to the best of your knowledge; and
- The facts that you include in your affidavit must be relevant to your case.
Just Include the Facts
It is important to remember that you should only include facts that you have first-hand knowledge of. That means you can only describe what you saw, heard, said or did. Do not include any sentences that start with “I believe that” or “I think that”. Only experts in that particular field are allowed to provide opinions, such as a doctor, economist, or accountant.
You might be familiar with the term “hearsay”. In the context of an affidavit, you cannot quote something that another party heard from someone else. If you want to quote something another party said, include the name of that person and the date (or approximate date) it was said.
If your affidavit is part of a Supreme Court Chambers application for an interim order, you can include information that you do not have first hand knowledge of. But you must also include information about the source of your knowledge. Include:
- Who told you;
- When they told you; and
- That you believe it to be true.
In some circumstances you can include something that your child said. The court will often allow what a child said to be put into an affidavit to avoid having to call the child as a witness.
Keep your affidavit Relevant
The facts you include in your affidavit must be relevant to the matter being decided on in court. You do not need to include every minute detail about the circumstances, relationships, or arguments that you have had.
Information is only considered relevant if it can be used to prove or disprove an important fact or issue in your case.
Other helpful tips
Keep your affidavit organized
Each fact or piece of information should be its own paragraph, and make sure each paragraph is numbered. List the facts in chronological order or by topic. Use headings and subheadings if you think they will better organize your affidavit.
Proofreading is key! Check over your affidavit for spelling mistakes and typos.
Use plain language and avoid “legalese”
Do not use complicated language and avoid legal sounding words. Even lawyers are expected to use plain language now. Keep your sentences simple and short.
Provide exact dates and dollar amounts whenever possible. If you can’t remember exact dates or numbers, try to estimate the best you can.
Keep it balanced
Your evidence is much more likely to be viewed as credible by a judge if it is balanced and fair. Do not be overly dramatic or use inflammatory language. Avoid words like “never” or “always” and don’t exaggerate.
If there is other information that is relevant but doesn’t support your position, it is important to include it. If the judge finds out that you have excluded important information because it doesn’t help you, a judge might view you as being less credible. Avoid making accusations about lying or stealing and do not guess about a person’s state of mind.
Both the Provincial Court and Supreme Court have their own specific affidavit formats. For blank affidavit forms, visit http://www.familylaw.lss.bc.ca/resources/court_forms.php
Swearing your affidavit
To swear or affirm your affidavit, you need to take it to a lawyer or notary public. If you have an affidavit that needs to be sworn, please call Vancouver Downtown Notary at 778-819-8553 or email us at [email protected].
If you want the judge to see a document that is not an affidavit, you must refer to the documents in your affidavit and attach it to your affidavit as an exhibit.
An exhibit could be one many things such as pictures, medical records, bank statements, notices of assessment, or receipts.
Here is an example of how you would refer to an exhibit in your affidavit:
On July 2nd, 2014, I received a letter from my landlord, (name), that said I was responsible for the damages and required to pay $3,000 by the end of the month. That letter is attached to this affidavit as Exhibit A.
You must take all of your exhibits with you when you go to a lawyer or notary public to get your affidavit sworn. The lawyer or notary public must identify each exhibit referred to in the affidavit, and sign a certificate that they stamp on each exhibit. The certificate will read:
This is Exhibit A referred to in the affidavit of John Doe, sworn before me on September 9th, 2015.
If you have more than one exhibit, mark them alphabetically (A, B, C, D etc.). Number the pages of each exhibit starting from page 1.
Finally, your exhibits should be short, relevant, and to the point
This article was written with the assistance of information provided by the Legal Services Society BC.