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You lie, you pay: Andriessen

By Inga Andriessen

Have you ever sworn under oath or affirmed to tell the truth before signing a document in front of a notary or commissioner for taking oaths? Did you take it seriously? If you were the notary or the commissioner, did you take it seriously?

I recently won a case which drove home the point for the other side that if you lie under oath, there are consequences. In that case, the consequence was that the liar had to pay $5,000 in punitive damages (damages awarded by a judge to punish bad behaviour) for lying in the document. In preparing for that legal argument, I found other cases that awarded $15,000 for one instance of lying under oath.

In addition to the civil punishment, lying under oath in a sworn document can attract the criminal charge of making a false statement.

“Making a false statement occurs when a person, who is not authorized or required by law to make a statement, makes such a statement by affidavit, solemn declaration or deposition, knowing that the statement is false.

This section is similar to perjury and creates a criminal offence for a person who makes a false statement under oath when they were not required or authorized to make a statement.

Unlike perjury, making a false statement does not specifically require that the Crown Attorney prove that a person intended to mislead, it is only necessary that the person knew the statement was false.”*

It’s not just the person swearing the false document who can end up in trouble. Section 131 of the Canadian Criminal Code says:

Perjury
131. (1) Subject to subsection (3), every one commits perjury who, with intent to mislead, makes before a person who is authorized by law to permit it to be made before him a false statement under oath or solemn affirmation, by affidavit, solemn declaration or deposition or orally, knowing that the statement is false.

Punishment
132. Every one who commits perjury is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years.

The notary or commissioner must actually witness the signature and confirm with the individual signing the document that it is true. One should never sign affidavits of, for example, a senior lawyer in the firm who signed them and put on your desk for “commissioning.” Do you really want to be cross-examined on where the senior lawyer was when you saw them sign? No. No you don’t.

Overall, remember, when you’re stating that you’re telling the truth, there are serious consequences if you’re not and there are lawyers out there, like me, who will ensure that you face those consequences.

*(n.d.). Retrieved from http://stephenjackcriminallawyer.ca/lying-police-court/

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