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Commissioners of oaths are individuals who have been authorized by state or provincial legislation to administer and witness the swearing of oaths or solemn affirmations for potential legal matters, as well as the taking of oral testimony. They are also authorized to witness any declaration required under a statute. The person taking the oath, making an affirmation, or making a declaration is referred to as a deponent or declarant.
It is important to note that a commissioner of oaths only certifies that the required oath, affirmation, or declaration has been properly administered, and does not certify the truth of the statements contained in a document, which remains the responsibility of the deponent or declarant themselves.
In most provinces and states, a commissioner of oaths must administer the oath or declaration in the manner prescribed by law, which requires the deponent to be physically present before them. The commissioner of oaths must also be satisfied with the authenticity of the deponent’s or declarant’s identity and signature before signing the document themselves. The signature of the deponent or declarant can usually be confirmed by comparing it to a piece of identification such as a driver’s license or passport.
It is worth noting that a commissioner of oaths who is not a Notary Public may have a limited Commission. For example, a government employee might only be authorized to administer oaths related to their office.
When an oath is being witnessed by a notary public or a commissioner of oaths, the deponent is required to confirm that the contents of the affidavit are true. They can either swear to it by saying, “Do you swear that the contents of this affidavit as subscribed by you are true, so help you God?” or affirm by responding “Do you solemnly affirm and declare that the contents of this affidavit as subscribed by you are true?” If a solemn declaration is required instead, the deponent must declare in the positive that they make the declaration conscientiously believing it to be true and knowing that it is of the same force and effect as if made under oath.
Regardless of the type of oath or declaration, the deponent must always be physically present before the notary public or commissioner of oaths.
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