Tips and Trips April 2019
There are times, in the workplace, when we may seek better verification for an event than simply an employee’s word for it. An absence that is unsupported by suitable documentation is an example. Another is making a statement as a witness about an occurrence where you are seeking verification – a workplace incident might be an example.
We can ask the person to obtain valid proof and a statutory declaration can be used to provide more substantial and legally binding proof or evidence.
In this edition of Tips and Trips, we outline the purposes of a statutory declaration, the legal framework in which they operate and how people can follow a request to provide one.
What is a statutory declaration?
A statutory declaration is a written statement that a person signs and declares to be true and correct in front of an authorised witness.
By signing it, the person agrees that the information in it is true and can be charged with perjury if the information provided is false.
Statutory declarations are commonly used to legally verify names, addresses, insurance claims, superannuation matters, lost passports and as evidence to support sick leave.
Although they have similar purposes, a statutory declaration is not the same as an affidavit. An affidavit is a written statement of fact, confirmed by oath or affirmation for use as evidence in court proceedings. A statutory declaration is also a written statement of fact, but is not confirmed by oath or affirmation.
How do I make a statutory declaration?
The initial step is to seek a credible source to obtain the statutory declaration template. In each state and territory, the Department of Justice or Attorney General’s department has a template available to download.
To make a statutory declaration, download and complete the statutory declaration form then have it witnessed by one of the many people authorised to do so, such as a Justice of the Peace, pharmacist, police officer, court registrar, bank manager, medical practitioner or dentist. There are many more professional people who can witness a statutory declaration and again the list of these is available on the state or territory Department of Justice website.
Most court houses and police stations also have statutory declaration documents available.
What does an authorised witness actually do?
A witness for a statutory declaration must:
check the identity of the person making the statutory declaration
check to the extent possible, that the person is competent to make the statutory declaration
remind the person that he or she will be claiming that the statements in the declaration (and any attachments) are true and that there are penalties for making false statements
check that the form does not contain any blanks.
What is the core content of a statutory declaration?
The key aspects of a statutory declaration are:
Recording details of the person making the declaration including full name, address, occupation and similar information
The actual words of the declaration – this usually starts with: “I solemnly and sincerely declare…” – the wording relates to the key reason for the statutory declaration for example verifying a names or addresses, providing details about an insurance claim, detailing their account of an occurrence in the workplace
·A statutory declaration carries a statement that the person making the declaration must endorse and then have their signature witnessed by an authorised person. This statement reads like: “I acknowledge that this declaration is true and correct, and I make it with the understanding and belief that a person who makes a false declaration is liable to the penalties of perjury.”
Is a statutory declaration a legally binding document?
The use and processing of statutory declaration is protected by Commonwealth and State or Territory legislation.
The person declaring a statutory declaration is making a factual statement that can be verified by a court.
If a person intentionally makes a false statement in a statutory declaration, they can be charged with a criminal offence and, in most states and territories, carries the possibility of up to four years imprisonment.
As a manager, if you have concerns about the veracity of a statutory declaration you should contact either the local police or the Australian Federal Police.
Needing advice and help?
If you would like assistance with either seeking a statutory declaration to verify certain information or assessing a statutory declaration that has been provided as evidence, please contact AB Phillips Pty Ltd, Monday to Friday between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm AEST by phone on 1300 208 828 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that the above information is provided as comment and should not be relied on as a substitute for detailed professional advice from AB Phillips or professional legal or financial advice on any particular matter. Where you would like additional information and support about the content in this document please contact AB Phillips.