A leading set specialising in commercial, construction, insurance and property law
Although the position is fast-moving and guidance is expected to be given in due course by the Law Society, it is presently understood that remote video conferencing technology such as Skype or Zoom could be used by a practising solicitor to administer a statutory declaration.
Section 20 of the Statutory Declarations Act 1835 (“SDA”) prescribes the form of the statutory declaration to be given is as set out in the Schedule to the Act. Although this gives the form of words to be used, it makes no other prescription as to the formal requirements to be followed. The practice in this area is, therefore, largely customary. Custom dictates that the person giving the statutory declaration and the solicitor administering in it are in the same place, typically the solicitor’s office.
Prior to 25 March 2020, the Law Society website displayed a guidance in response to a question asking, “Can a statutory declaration be taken by Skype?”. That guidance suggested that there was nothing in the case law or legislation which prevented the use of such technology but noted that customarily the declarant and the solicitor administering the statutory declaration would be physically proximate. This guidance was removed on 25 March 2020 from the Law Society website and it is anticipated that updated information, in light of the COVID-19 outbreak will be provided soon.
Two further points are relevant to note. The first is that the Coronavirus Act 2020 (“CA”) makes a range of modifications to courts and tribunal practice to permit and facilitate remote working in circumstances which would usually require physical attendance. No specific provision is made for the administration of statutory declarations, however, the use of video conferencing software for such a purpose would plainly fall within the spirit of the CA.
Second, in an insolvency context, reliance could readily be placed upon rule 12.64 of the Insolvency (England and Wales) Rules 2016 to retrospectively waive any defect arising from the use of Skype or analogous software in the administration of a statutory declaration.
This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of Chambers or by Chambers as a whole.
Please note that we do not give legal advice on individual cases which may relate to this content other than by way of formal instruction of a member of Hardwicke. However if you have any other queries about this content please contact: