Parties involved in litigation during lockdown are likely to have encountered practical difficulties when swearing affidavits. Until now, anyone swearing an affidavit had to attend, in person, before a practising solicitor or commissioner for oaths.
With effect from 31 March 2021, affidavits may be sworn within Ireland by means of a video conference attended by the deponent (i.e. the person giving evidence in the affidavit) and the practising solicitor or commissioner for oaths. This may be done where, for reasons stated in the affidavit, it is not practicable for the swearing to happen in person.
This welcome change in the rules has been introduced by the Rules of the Superior Courts (Affidavits) 2021. The amended rules set out a number of conditions to be met where the swearing takes place by video conference, principally those set out in sub-rule 9. Those conditions should be carefully checked and followed.
As noted here, further changes to the manner in which evidence is given in written form may lie ahead. Under legislation enacted in 2020, "statements of truth" in electronic form may come to replace affidavits. For the time being, until further changes to the rules are introduced, evidence will continue to be given by way of affidavit.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.