Commissioners for Oaths in Singapore

Last updated on January 18, 2024

“Commissioners for oaths” generally refer to lawyers, court interpreters, officers in the employment of government ministries, departments, statutory boards, government-linked companies and employees of designated non-profit organisations who are considered fit and proper persons to be appointed to administer oaths. These appointments are made by the Board of Commissioners for Oaths and Notaries Public.

Who is Qualified to be a Commissioner for Oaths?

The Board of Commissioner for Oaths and Notaries Public will only appoint lawyers as Commissioners for Oaths if they:

  • Have at least 10 years of experience in active legal practice or service; and
  • Are at least 35 years old.

On the other hand, non-lawyer individuals intending to apply to be a Commissioner must:

  • Be at least 25 years old
  • Have a GCE “O” Level academic qualification or its equivalent; and
  • Be employed by their organisation for at least 1 year.

First-time applicants must register for and pass an online test before submitting an application for appointment as Commissioner.

What do Commissioners for Oaths do?

Generally, these commissioners are tasked with the administering of oaths or affirmations for legal documents to be used in Singapore. This includes the administering of oaths or affirmations in respect of affidavits to be used in Singapore courts, or statutory declarations to be used in Singapore.

What are oaths and affirmations?

An oath is a swear as to the truth of statements or information provided by the oath maker.

Affirmations carry the same legal force as oaths, and are made by persons Hindu or Muslim or of some other religion according to which oaths are not of binding force, or have conscientious objections to the taking of oaths.

What are affidavits and statutory declarations?

Statutory declarations are statements made to declare something to be true for the purposes of satisfying some legal requirement or regulation. They are not sworn statements.

Affidavits are written sworn statements of fact made by a deponent. In contrast, testimonies are oral evidence given under oath by a witness.

General Services Rendered by Commissioners for Oaths

The functions that may be performed by Commissioners for Oaths include:

  • Administering oaths for:
    • The justification for bail
    • Taking any affidavit or affirmation
    • Receiving and taking the answer, plea, demurrer, disclaimer, allegation or examination of any party or parties to any action
    • The examination of any witnesses in chief
    • Swearing executors and administrators
    • Swearing persons in any cause or matter which is pending or about to be instituted in any court in any of its jurisdiction
  • Taking and receiving statutory declarations
  • Receive acknowledgements of recognisance of bail and bail bonds

Commissioners for Oaths who are lawyers

Out of above functions, commissioners for oaths who are lawyers are only competent to:

  • Take any affidavit or affirmation or for the swearing of executors and administrators
  • Take and receiving statutory declarations

Further, lawyers must not act as a Commissioner for Oaths in any matter or business in which the lawyer or any member of the lawyer’s firm is acting as an advocate and solicitor for.

Commissioners for Oaths who are government employees

Commissioners for Oaths who are government employees are eligible to take and receive the documents specified in Schedule I of their applications, and subject to such other limitations as the Senate of the Academy may determine or as may be stated in the certificate of appointment.

Generally, Commissioners for Oaths who are government employees should handle documents relevant to their organisation.

Court interpreters

Commissioners for Oaths who are court interpreters may administer oaths in accordance with section 68 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act. This is subject to such other limitations as the Senate of the Academy may determine or as may be stated in the certificate of appointment.

Employees of designated non-profit organisations

Employees of designated non-profit organisations will have to abide by the restrictions found in their certificates of appointment.

Fees Payable to Commissioners for Oaths

The fees that Commissioners for Oaths may charge for their services are set by the Senate of the Singapore Academy of Law. However, it may also be possible for Commissioners for Oaths to render their services for free.

Read our other article for more information on the fees for Commissioner for Oaths services in Singapore.