In Malaysia’s legal system, a Commissioner for Oaths is a vital part of how the day to day functioning of the wheels of justice work. A ubiquitous presence throughout Malaysia, a Commissioner for Oaths’ role is necessary for the courts to do their work and helps Malaysian citizens and residents advance their case in the legal process. Often, their work, due to its similarity, is confused with that of a notary public. However, choosing the wrong official can have disastrous consequences for your legal position if you are not careful. Below, we’ll detail what a Commissioner for Oaths is, what a Commissioner for Oaths does, and how someone becomes a Commissioner for Oaths.
In short, a Commissioner for Oaths in Malaysia is an official who has been authorized by Malaysian legal authorities to ensure that declarations, such as affidavits, legal documents, and other statutory declaration from an individual are verifiable and legally compliant. The Commissioner for Oaths verifies these documents for use in Malaysia. A Commissioner for Oaths is also empowered to administer an affirmation, oath, or other declaration. It is important to note that, for use in a court in Malaysia or any other quasi-judicial agency or tribunal, your oath or affirmation can only be administered by a Commissioner for Oaths.
Many confuse the functions of a Commissioner for Oaths and a Notary Public due to the similarity of their work at times. However, one important distinction between the two is that a Notary Public is only authorized to verify the legality of documents through confirming oaths, signatures and other requirements for overseas use only. Thus, bringing a document to a Malaysian court that has been shepherded through by a notary public will likely only bring an adverse legal result for the party relying on the document.
Commissioners for Oaths are legal officials whose primary role is to ensure that when some documents are created – such as affidavits – or when some documents – such as financial statements are signed – they are legally or statutorily compliant. Some of these documents are known as legal terminology but are, in fact, very simple to understand as concepts.
An affidavit is a sworn statement regarding the truth of a matter. For example, if you wish to add your testimony to the record that you were in a certain place at a certain time in order to corroborate someone’s account of an event, an affidavit, where you swear to what you have said as the truth, is the most legally appropriate way to do so. Another interaction with a Commissioner for Oaths that some must go through is a statutory declaration. Oftentimes, those who must file financial statements must ensure they are legally compliant, and, working with a Commissioner for Oaths, they can be certain of the technical accuracy and legality of the document they must file. Finally, for any other legal document which requires the verification of a Commissioner for Oaths, that commissioner will work with you to ensure all requirements for the document are met.
With regards to different types of documents, Commissioners for Oaths in Malaysia perform a variety of services for the person visiting them. First, visiting a Commissioner for Oaths must be done in person as the commission will witness your signature so when a third party notices the commissioner’s stamp, it is a de facto guarantee that the legal processes have been followed. It is important to note that one person cannot sign on behalf of a class of other people thus every person whose signature is supposed to be on the document must be present to sign in person. The Commissioner for Oaths will also read over the document to ensure it is something that can be signed by you as some documents may not be able to be executed due to age, incapacity, or other reason. Lastly, the Commissioner for Oaths will work to ensure you understand the document you are signing. For example, some documents use very technical legal terms or may use other phraseology the common person is unfamiliar with. The commissioner will explain it to you to ensure you know what you are signing and how it impacts you.
The Commissioner for Oaths can also perform a large variety of other tasks as long as that person is also a solicitor. They can receive acknowledgements of bail bonds, receive acknowledgements of a married woman, and can administer oaths for circumstances such as bail justification, taking or receiving an answer, plea, demurrer, or response in any action, swear in executors or administrators, examine any witness under interrogatories, and a slew of other tasks.
Finally, a Commissioner for Oaths is not allowed to be a witness for a document generally unless authorized by relevant sections of the Moneylenders Act, the Hire Purchase Act, the Sabah Land Ordinance, the Legal Professions Act, or other relevant laws.
A Commissioner for Oaths is always appointed by the Chief Justice and may be a solicitor but is not required to be one for the appointment. However, there are other qualifications such as being a Malaysian citizen between 21 and 66 years old who has an SPM or equivalent degree. They must also be physically and mentally healthy and have not been bankrupt, a criminal record, or detained to prevent a crime. Additionally, the other qualifications are being either a lawyer with 7 or more years of experience, a public official or public officer in the government, a member of a body which has been established by statute, or someone with experiences from a past career or job which qualifies them.
You should contact a Commissioner for Oaths to see if they are able to help you with your affidavit, statutory declaration, or other legal document for use in Malaysian courts.