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The Law of Affidavits
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The Law of Affidavits

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Published 15 July 2013 (The Federation Press)
ISBN: 9781862879294. Hard Cover, 272 pages.

Affidavits are used in Courts and Tribunals including arbitrations, to provide the evidence-in-chief of witnesses. There are evidentiary, formal and procedural rules which apply to affidavits. Non-compliance can result in the evidence being excluded, the case being lost, or proceedings adjourned with adverse costs orders against the party, or against the lawyer who prepared the affidavit. Most young lawyers serve an informal apprenticeship drafting affidavits under the supervision of more experienced colleagues, learning from their experience and saving their own references and precedents. Some, less fortunate are 'thrown in at the deep end' without guidance or supervision. In addition, case management has created new pressures for compliance with short timetables for filing and serving affidavits, so there is no luxury of time available in preparing affidavits which involves taking relevant instructions, putting it into an admissible form without mistakes and so it can survive objections.

This is the first work on Affidavits published in Australia and sets out to provide a reference for evidentiary, formal and procedural rules together with precedents.


Table of Cases

Chapter 1: Introduction
History of affidavits
Current sources of the law of affidavits

Chapter 2: What is an affidavit? 
Distinguished from statutory declaration
Distinguished from witness statement, witness summary, statement of truth

Chapter 3: Professional obligations
Professional obligations

Chapter 4: Preparation 
Using the pleadings 
Summons and pleadings 
     Statement of claim 
Plaintiff’s affidavits 
Defendant’s affidavits

Chapter 5: The objectives - admissible, relevant and probative 
Is the evidence admissible? 
     Rules of evidence 
     Court Rules 
     Make the evidence relevant 
     Rational probative value 
Achieving the objectives 
     A systematic approach 
     Risk management 
Things to look for 
     Form, style and drafting errors

Chapter 6: Use of an affidavit 
Affidavit used as written evidence in chief 
Purpose of an affidavit 
Procedures for affidavits 
When can an affidavit be made? 
When is an affidavit used? 
Affidavits replace oral evidence 
     Oral evidence on key matters - an important exception 
Reading an affidavit before the hearing 
Witness appearing by video link or telephone 
Who can make an affidavit? 
Who cannot be compelled to make an affidavit 
Affidavits made by 2 or more deponents 
Is every witness to make an affidavit? 
Where is an affidavit used? 
     Court proceedings 
     Domestic commercial arbitration 
     International arbitration 
What type of proceedings? 
     Ex parte and interlocutory proceedings 
     Notice of Motion 
     Hearsay evidence admissible 
     Final hearing 
How is an affidavit used? 
Construing affidavits 
Stale affidavit

Chapter 7: Form 
Court form 
Form number 
    Font size 
    Number of pages limited 
    Page numbers 
    Paper quality etc 
Formal parts 
    Heading and title 
    Multiplicity of proceedings 
    Date made 
    Names of parties 
    Deponent, full name 
    Multiple plaintiffs 
    Multiple defendants 
    Multiple deponents 
    Address of deponent 
    Capacity or interest of the deponent

Chapter 8: The Deponent and incapacity 
Legal incapacity or disability 
Intellectual incapacity - illiteracy 
Inability to read, speak or understand the language 
    Inability to read the language 
    Illiterate in English 
Physical incapacity 
Deponent blind 
Deponent incapable of signing 
Certificate of compliance 
Certificate where deponent suffers incapacity

Chapter 9: Affirmations and oaths 
Oath no longer required 
Administering the affirmation or oath 
Who may administer affirmation or oath 
    In Australia 
    Outside Australia 
    When a solicitor may not administer an oath or affirmation 
Adjuration or jurat 
    Jurat Date 
Signatures, formal requirements

Chapter 10: Style 
Table of contents or index 
    The affidavit 
    The attachments 
Dates, numbers and sums 
Paragraph numbers 
Paragraph contents

Chapter 11: Content 
Standard of proof 
Introductory matters 
    Authority of the deponent 
    Conversations, referred to 
    Documents, referred to 
The relevant law 
Court Rules 
Corporations Rules 
Rules of evidence 
W words 
Matters which should not appear in an affidavit 
    Advice, reference to 
    Loss of privilege 
Matters which cannot appear in an affidavit 
Language of the witness 
Not the language or version of the solicitor 
    First person 
    Direct speech 
    Narrative form 
    Contemporaneous statements 
    What the witness heard in a conversation 
    Prior consistent statement 
    Prior inconsistent statement 
Specific issues 
    Alteration and erasure 
    And/or, and or 
    Director’s authority to make for a corporation 
    Interlocutory hearing - information and belief 
    Final hearing 
    Additional or supplemental evidence 
    Self-incrimination privilege

Chapter 12: Opinion 
Common law 
Lay opinion 
Evidence Act jurisdictions 
    Lay opinion 
    Expert opinion 
    No inference of expertise 
    Formal requirements for expert evidence 
Proof of foreign law 
Proof of history 
Settling an expert report 
    The Whitehouse Line 
    The Federal Line

Chapter 13: Attachments: annexures and exhibits 
Annexure and exhibit distinguished 
Modern use of annexures and exhibits 
    Identifying annexures and exhibits 
    Documents referred to in the affidavit 
Document referred to in an attachment 
    Discovery may apply 
    Access to document identified in annexure but not in an exhibit 
Index of attachments 
Avoid duplication 
Maximum no of pages 
Identification and marking – consecutive 
    Identification statement on first page 
    Single attachment for a bundle of documents 
    Copy or original 
    Is an attachment filed? 
    Is an attachment served with the affidavit? 
Documents fastened or bound 
    Font size - attachments 
    Separate certificate for each exhibit 
    Certificate as title page 
    Certificate signed by witness 
Summary of Conventions

Chapter 14: Filing 
Time for filing 
    Filing late 
Date and time of filing endorsed 
Facsimile filing 
Working copy for the Court

Chapter 15: Service 
Manner of service 
Service under rules

Chapter 16: Objections 
Identifying objections to an affidavit 
Does the law of evidence apply? 
Common objections 
    Fact is not relevant 
    Excluding irrelevancy 
    Common law 
    Evidence Act 1995 jurisdictions 
    Settlement negotiations 
    Scandalous, oppressive, frivolous and vexatious, abuse of process etc 
    What is scandalous? 
Less common 
    Affidavit not relevant - fraud 
    Provisional relevance 
    Inferences as to relevance 
    What is hearsay? 
    Common law hearsay 
    Evidence Act 1995 hearsay 
    What is not hearsay 
    Hearsay evidence excluded 
    Evidence Act 1995 exceptions to the hearsay rule 
Other objections 
Formal notice of objections 
Court management of objections 
    Evidence Act 1995

Chapter 17: Documentary evidence 
Contemporaneous records 
Documents created taking instructions, to revive memory etc 
Computer records 
Electronic records etc 
Official records 
Documents more than 20 years old 
Summarising contents 
Charts, summaries and other explanatory material

Chapter 18: Attendance of deponent 
Notice to attend 
Costs of attendance 
Deponent not required to attend 
Incapacity and absent witness 
Non-attendance in Federal Court and Federal Magistrates Court, affidavit read but of no weight 
No power to order arrest for non-attendance 
Affidavit not read at hearing – leave refused at appeal

Chapter 19: Use at the hearing 
Notice to be given before reading 
Use of another party’s affidavit

Chapter 20: Irregularities and defects 
Defects, examples 
Defect, no jurat 
Multiple defects

Chapter 21: Discretion 
Discretionary rules 
    Evidence Act 1995 jurisdictions

Chapter 22: Cross examination 
Interlocutory application 
Final hearing 
Issues for cross-examination 
Extent of cross-examination permitted 
    Credit - Evidence Act 1995 jurisdictions 
    Class of matters made inadmissible by credibility rule 
    Failure to cross-examine on a fact or proposition

Chapter 23: False statements and contempt

Chapter 24: Adverse consequences 
Excluding , striking out and little weight 
Costs orders 
    When affidavit served out of time 
    Costs order against practitioner

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