Section 21 introduces a provision for the ‘statement of truth’.
The section is an enabling one in that Rules of Court will be required to bring it into effect.
The Law Society is actively urging that this be done without delay although, in all likelihood, it may take some months before the first Statement of Truth will in fact be made, President Michele O’Boyle has said.
The Act does not go as far as the Law Society had hoped.
For several years, the Law Society has sought the abolition of all religious oaths, as originally recommended by the Law Reform Commission.
Another ‘miscellaneous’ legislative measure is planned on the matter in the near future.
President Michele O’Boyle says she remains committed to lobbying for further measures to be included at that time.
“I will be seeking to ensure that Statements of Truth will apply not just to litigation but to all areas of law, including conveyancing and probate, where affidavits and statutory declarations currently are required.
“While the Civil and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous) Act 2020 represents significant progress, I am keenly aware that further reform is needed and I will continue to actively pursue it,” the president said.
A number of important reforms have been made by the Act which will substantially impact on practitioners. These include:
- the introduction of a statutory basis for courts to conduct remote hearings in civil proceedings,
- the admissibility of business records as evidence in civil proceedings,
- the lodgement of documents with the courts by electronic means, or e-filing,
- provision for the wider use of video links between persons in custody and the courts,
- enhancing and widening the existing provisions on giving evidence through video link,
- providing for appeals (to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court) in criminal proceedings to take place via remote hearing,
- providing for the remote meetings of State bodies,
- provisions making it easier to alter the operating hours and sitting locations of the District Court.
Most of the provisions will come into effect today (21 August).