What is a Commissioner of Oaths or Commissioner for Taking Affidavits and why might you need one?
By virtue of their office, paralegals licensed under the Law Society of Ontario (LSO) are able to commission documents. This means that paralegals may take affidavits and administer other legal oaths, affirmations, or declarations in accordance with the Commissioners for Taking Affidavits Act. Paralegals are often referred to as ‘Commissioners of Oaths’ or ‘Commissioners for taking Affidavits.’
What kind of documents need to be commissioned?
In addition to affidavits for Court purposes, some examples of documents that commonly need to be commissioned include
- travel forms giving a caregiver permission to travel outside of the country with your child
- proof of residency affidavits
- vehicle transfer forms
- name change applications
- student loan forms
- insurance claims,
- Ontario Works or ODSP application forms
- among many other things.
How does the process work?
If a document is sworn or affirmed in front of a Commissioner of Oaths, it has the same effect as if the person making the statement makes it under Oath. This means that there can be serious consequences for swearing a false affidavit, which is the reason that many important documents require this formality.
Part of the commissioning process is verifying the identity of the person making the statement. Unless the person making the statement is personally known to the Commissioner of Oaths, the Commissioner must verify their identify before commissioning the document.
The Commissioner of Oaths will complete a section called a jurat which states who signed the document, where and when, and before whom it was signed.
If there are attachments or exhibits to the main document, each attachment or exhibit must also be signed by the Commissioner.
The Commissioner of Oaths is essentially formally witnessing the signing of the document and does not usually have any personal knowledge of the contents (or truth) of the document being commissioned.
Do I have to swear on a Bible?
No. (But you can if you want to.)
Because we live in a diverse country in which people are entitled to freedom of religion, a person has the choice to swear an oath or make an affirmation. Swearing an oath relates the truth of the statement to a religious belief, for example, ‘Do you swear that the contents of this document are true, so help you God?’ whereas an affirmation is a non-religious statement.
Both have equal power and force under law.
Do you have a special stamp or use red wax to seal the document?
Yes and No. At Carr Paralegal we use a stamp to make it easy for you and the final recipient of the document to confirm that the document was signed by an authorized Commissioner.
Commissioners of Oaths/Commissioners for Taking Affidavits are either appointed for a specific purpose (such as commissioning documents for their employer) or are Commissioners by Virtue of Office. Paralegals are Commissioners by Virtue of Office which means that any paralegal is automatically a Commissioner. Commissioners appointed for a specific purpose are required to use a stamp provided by the Inspector of Legal Offices which states the conditions of their appointment. Commissioners by virtue of office, such as paralegals, are not required to use a stamp although it is often helpful and reassuring to clients and the final recipients of the documents (which is why we do it that way). Sealing with red wax is an older custom mostly replaced by embossing technology, although some notaries may still use it.
Can Paralegals Notarize documents?
No, unfortunately paralegals are not able to notarize documents. This would require a notary public. Unlike commissioning a document where the Commissioner does not attest to the validity or truth of the document, when a document is notarized the Notary Public is certifying that the document is an original or true copy of the original. Unlike commissioned documents, notarized documents require a notarial seal to be official.
Getting a Document Commissioned
If you need a document commissioned, Carr Paralegal can assist you in a few easy steps:
- Call or use our contact form to book an appointment
- Bring your unsigned documents and government issued ID to your appointment
- We will administer the Oath or Affirmation and commission your document
We offer appointments in our office or if it’s easier for you, we can arrange an appointment at a location convenient to you. Documents cannot be commissioned virtually; the individual has to be physically present with the Commissioner when the documents are signed.
At Carr Paralegal, we charge $30 to commission your documents in-office, and $50 for on-site commissioning (HST included). Each additional signature is $10. We’re happy to provide this service to you at a reasonable price and are the lowest cost providers of on-site Commissioner of Oath services in Halton Region.
Accessibility and Flexibility
Our office is wheelchair accessible, however if attending our office presents a challenge for reasons reasons related to disability we are privileged to meet you at a location suitable for you at no additional charge – just let us know when booking your appointment.
We recognize that many of our clients cannot take time away from their employment responsibilities during the day and are happy to arrange flexible appointments to suit your needs.
Carr Paralegal can be reached by phone at 905-541-6142 or email at email@example.com.