When completing business transactions, from time to time, you may need to undertake formal legal steps and sign certain legal documents to achieve your business objectives. Some of these steps may be relatively new if you haven’t encountered them before. One of these such procedural documents that you may not have heard about is called a statutory declaration.
In this article, we’ll be looking at statutory declarations in more detail so that if you’re asked to sign one on behalf of your business, you’ll understand why it may have been requested and what’s involved.
What is a statutory declaration?
A statutory declaration is a formal legal document containing a written statement of fact that must be signed in the presence of a solicitor, commissioner for oaths, notary public or magistrate.
For the purpose of this article, we’ll refer to solicitors only but note the list of roles above that can validly witness a statutory declaration. Statutory declarations are governed by the Statutory Declarations Act 1835.
When signing the declaration, you’ll have to repeat some words that the solicitor will read out to you. The wording is a formal way of you legally and formally confirming your name as the declarant, that the declaration is true and that you agree to its contents. It’s important that you tell the truth, as otherwise, you can be punished for perjury for a false declaration.
Why are they needed?
A statutory declaration can be used in a wide variety of circumstances but are almost always used to confirm the facts within the written statement formally and legally to satisfy a particular legal requirement or achieve a certain transactional purpose.
When do I need to swear a statutory declaration?
Statutory declarations can be used in private legal matters and also commercial legal matters. As private legal matter examples, you may be asked to sign one if you’re getting married overseas, when acting as an executor of a will in certain circumstances, correcting a document error or using the procedure to carry out a name change, etc.
From a commercial perspective, a common use of a statutory declaration is when a business property tenant is looking to sign a lease that excludes the renewal rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954. This is commonly referred to amongst lawyers as ‘contracting out’ of the ‘security of tenure’ rights.
Another common use in company matters is a statutory declaration of solvency when filing for a Members Voluntary Liquidation with the expectation that creditors will be all paid in full.
In another example, you may be asked to sign one in a business property transaction, such as to confirm certain historical matters that may not have been properly documented previously, such as the existence of an informal right of way, etc.
As you’ll appreciate, it’s impossible to list all the possible circumstances when a statutory declaration is required, but hopefully, you’ll start to see the types of scenarios where they come into play.
How do I arrange to swear a statutory declaration?
The declaration must be witnessed by a solicitor independent of the matter at hand. So, if you’re represented by a solicitor involved in the relevant transaction (who may or may not have drafted the declaration for you), the statutory declaration should be witnessed by a separate, independent solicitor who isn’t involved in the relevant transaction / legal matter and hasn’t been involved in the drafting of the document.
You’ll likely need an appointment to visit the independent solicitor. Many high street solicitors will be able to witness the declaration for you. If signing in the presence of a solicitor, the cost of signing the declaration is set by law at £5 for the declaration itself and £2 extra for each exhibit referred to in the declaration.
For assistance with statutory declarations or legal guidance in this realm, consult skilled solicitors like those at LawBite. Their proficient lawyers ensure precise document preparation with essential attachments, validating it for your intended use.
LawBite offers expert assistance in commercial, corporate, and employment legal concerns.
About the author
Ashley Gurr one of the many expert contract lawyers at LawBite. Ashley has over 15 years of experience in private practice helping SMEs and in-house for an international consultancy group advising on commercial agreements and a multi-national utility giant in a contract strategy role.