Updated November 2, 2020:

When comparing an affidavit vs. statutory declaration, the main difference is that an affidavit is generally used in court while a statutory declaration is not.

What is the Difference Between an Affidavit and a Statutory Declaration?

An affidavit is a written statement of facts that the person making has sworn to be the truth. To be legally usable, an affidavit must be sworn by the person making the statement in front of an individual with legal authorization to administer an oath. A statutory declaration has some similarities to an affidavit, although this statement is typically used outside of a court of law. One example is if the grantor of land passes away, a statutory declaration might be used to prove the death in the land transfer process.

All declarations are subject to legislative provisions. Although it's not as often used in a court setting, a statutory declaration generally will hold the same legal weight and have the same effect as if it had been made in court, under oath. When an affidavit is written, these statements are sworn to be true in front of a testifying party with legal authority.

An affidavit will include a written account of a specific event or events, based on how the author of the statement recalls the facts. The statements or claims in a statutory declaration are believed to be true, but the declaration is simply an affirmed statement by a declarant or author. An affidavit's author will duly sign the written record.

When the author signs the record, the affidavit is considered to be authentic. Additionally, the author will be witnessed by a commissioner of oaths, also referred to as a notary public. The presence of the notary public will verify that the claims being made in the affidavit are truthful. If the author is later proven to have provided information that is not truthful in an affidavit, the witnessing by the notary public subjects that individual to potential charges of perjury.

A statutory declaration is signed by the person giving the statement, but any qualified witness can be present. Qualified witnesses include:

  • Justice of the Peace
  • Legal counsel

Affidavits are most commonly used in legal proceedings and court cases. In a legal case related to family matters, an affidavit is often used as evidence during the hearings. If a witness in a court case is unable to appear in person, whether due to an intentional barring of their identity or to protect their personal safety, that witness can provide an affidavit as written evidence to be used in the case. An affidavit can even be used to grant an individual voting registration.

If someone wishes to assert that a claim they made is true and valid to fulfill a legal condition, a statutory declaration can be used for this situation. Statutory declarations are especially important in cases with little available evidence.

The use of these types of declarations will vary, depending on the jurisdiction or location. Some of the possible uses include:

  • Declaring identity
  • Changing the name of an individual
  • Determining the origin of goods
  • Declaring nationality

Affidavits are similar to declarations under the penalty of perjury, also known as sworn statements. A court will usually consider both options to hold the same legal equivalence, although affidavits are more widely preferred. When giving a declaration under penalty of perjury, the person giving the statement must also state: "I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct." The statement must be accompanied by the signature of the declarant and the date.

In Uganda, the Statutory Declarations Act Cap. 22 outlines the differences between these documents. In section two, it states that no affidavit may be sworn for purposes, except:

  • When the written law authorizes an affidavit
  • When the affidavit relates to court applications, proceedings, or other related matters

Who is the Affiant?

In an affidavit, the affiant is the individual who is swearing to the statement being made.

Who is the Declarant?

A person who is making a declaration is called the declarant.

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