Do notaries need to verify the truth of affidavits?

One of the most frequently asked questions that we get from our clients is whether or not they have to provide us with supporting evidence when they are swearing an statutory declaration or affidavit. For example, clients will sometimes ask if they need to provide us with proof of their common law relationship before we notarize their IMM 5409 Statutory Declaration of Common-Law Status.

It’s a good question - and the answer is no, we do not need to see supporting evidence. In Ontario, notaries do not have a duty to verify the truth of the contents of an affidavit or statutory declaration. But why?

The answers can be found in a recent Ontario Court of Appeal decision, Chatha v Johal, 2018 ONCA 990 (CanLII). In this case, the appellant (who swore the affidavit) argued that the respondent (the notary) was negligent in notarizing the affidavit for a number of reasons, in particular that the respondent failed to verify the truth of the contents of the affidavit. The Court found that the common law establishes that a notary does not owe a duty to third parties to verify the accuracy of information contained in an affidavit that they commission. The Court stated that there are good policy reasons for this, and that imposing such a duty would make the routine swearing of affidavits a time consuming and prohibitively expensive.

In non-legal speak: if notaries had to see supporting evidence to confirm the truth of affidavits and statutory declarations, it would take way too much time to notarize anything, and the cost would go way up (more time = higher price).

Even though notaries do not need to see supporting evidence, the person, organization or institution to whom you are submitting your affidavit or statutory declaration may require you to provide evidence that verifies the truth of your affidavit or statutory declaration. Double-check the requirements before you submit your affidavit or statutory declaration. If you’re not certain, make sure to contact the person, organization or institution to clarify their requirements.

Need a notary that’s quick and affordable? Downtown Notary can help. Most of our appointments take less than ten minutes. Our fees are $35 for the first notarization (notary’s stamp and signature), and $17.50 for each additional notarization, including HST. Ready to get started? Book your appointment now, or contact us for more information.

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