Do I have to take an oath or affirmation?
When it’s your turn to give your evidence, the court officer will ask you to stand in the witness box.
You will be asked whether you want to take an ‘oath’ or make an ‘affirmation’ to tell the truth.
Both are promises to tell the truth. Your evidence is regarded in the same way, no matter which you do.
It’s an offence to give false evidence in court after taking this oath or affirmation.
- has religious significance
- is usually made while the court officer is holding the Bible, the New Testament or the Old Testament, or another religious book (but this isn’t essential)
- can be made by someone without religious beliefs; and their evidence is still valid
If you need a religious book other than the Bible, please tell the person you are being a witness for at least 24 hours before your court appearance, so arrangements can be made.
The words of an oath are usually read to you by the court officer:
‘Do you swear you shall by Almighty God [or the name of the god you recognise] that the evidence you shall give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.’
You respond by saying ‘I swear’.
- has no religious significance
The words of an affirmation are usually read to you by the court officer:
‘Do you solemnly and sincerely declare and affirm that the evidence you shall give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.’
You respond by saying ‘I affirm’.