Swearing an affidavit in the Netherlands What is an

Swearing an affidavit in the Netherlands
Where the use of affidavits is a customary practice in Common Law courts (mainly in the
U.S., but also the U.K. and Australia), most lawyers in the Netherlands will have only
vaguely heard of them. Nonetheless, it's certainly possible to swear an affidavit under Dutch
law. This fact sheet explains what an affidavit is and what it's used for.
What is an affidavit?
An affidavit is a written statement used to
present evidence to the court. The written
declaration is usually made by an individual
and contains facts that are important for
providing evidence in a legal procedure.
The affidavit will be signed by the person
making the declaration. Thereafter the affiant
may declare that the information is correct
("affirmed") or swear under oath that the data
provided are true ("sworn").
notaries and members of the parliament). A
sworn statement used to present evidence to
the court is therefore not commonly seen.
For all that, using a sworn statement is
nevertheless possible in Dutch courts.
According to Dutch law evidence can be
provided by any means. This doesn't affect
the possibility to use a statement, sworn
under oath, as evidence.
How to execute an affidavit
according to Dutch law?
In the U.S. you can swear under oath before a
registry clerk, a lawyer or a notary public. This
requires a simple form.
Completion of a sworn affidavit is therefore a
fairly common procedure in the U.S.
Since the affidavit as a concept does not
exist under Dutch law, the statement itself
can be composed in any form. Then the
affiant can sign the affidavit and take an
oath before a civil law notary.
What can you say in an affidavit?
In the Netherlands, being a civil law
country, the civil law notary ("Notaris")
plays a pivotal role in lots of legal
proceedings (such a incorporation of a
company, conveyance of real estate etc). A
Notaris is also authorised to take a
statement under oath. The way in which the
oath is taken is prescribed by law (Wet
vorm van de eed).
Finally, the Notaris has to make a record in
the form of a deed of every oath
administered by him.
An affidavit sets out facts, not opinions. One
should also avoid referring to facts that are
based on information received from others
("hearsay" or "de auditu").
It's possible to attach letters or important
documents to the affidavit. These are often
referred to as "exhibits" or "annexures".
What is the legal position of an
affidavit in the Netherlands?
In the Netherlands it is not standard practice
to make statements under oath for the
purpose of presenting evidence in court.
In certain proceedings, witnesses are heard by
the court, and are sworn before taking their
deposition. The witness then takes the oath
before the judge.
Other than that, making a statement under
oath is relatively rare. It is reserved for special
occasions such as when you are appointed in a
certain position (e.g. lawyers, judges, civil law
What are the penalties?
Because the affiant swears the statement to
be true, a person who makes a false affidavit
could be considered committing perjury,
and be exposed to criminal prosecution
under Dutch Law.
When the affidavit is intended to be used
abroad, one could also be prosecuted by the
court before which the false affidavit is
For more information, please contact
René Rieter ([email protected])