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Swearing documents

Section 72 of the Solicitors (Amendment) Act 1994

As a solicitor you can take oaths or statutory declarations in the same way as a Commissioner for Oaths  However you are not allowed to do so in any proceedings in which you are acting as solicitor or if you have an interest in the proceedings.

The Law Society has published a practice note (Practice Note in relation to the Administration of Oaths by Solicitors, June 2005) in which it states that solicitors should not swear oaths for proceedings in which any solicitor in the firm is acting. This being the case, and given that as a matter of practice, law centre solicitors don’t act in cases that other solicitors in the same law centre are acting, you should not swear oaths for any other solicitor in the same law centre.

However you can swear oaths for Board solicitors from other law centres or for private practitioners representing legally aided persons. You may not charge for doing so, or take money for doing so.

You may not take payment for any taking of oaths or swearing of documents in the course of your employment with the Board.

The Practice Note also deals with practices that are in breach of the legislation, including leaving blanks in the document that are filled in after swearing, having the client sign an affidavit to be sworn later and without the deponent being present, and sending documents to clients by post asking them to sign ‘between the pencil marks’ and return. Managing solicitors should be satisfied that these practices are not occurring in their law centres.