To Notarize, Or Not To Notarize — That Is The Question!
- On January 31, 2020
By Liza Bryant
The attorneys at Fletcher & Sippel often call upon their clients and other witnesses to provide them with various forms of signed attestations, affidavits, and declarations that either verify the truthfulness of written discovery responses, or offer support to motions and other pleadings filed with the court. And, in many cases, the signatures on these various documents will need to be notarized which, depending on the expediency with which the document is needed, can sometimes be burdensome for the claims agent verifying the discovery responses or the witness providing the affidavit—particularly if the person signing does not have easy access to a notary.
As it turns out, depending on the rules of the specific jurisdiction, there are actually several types of these documents that do not require notarization. For example, in Illinois, the rules generally require an “affidavit” be notarized, though there are specific types of affidavits to which the requirement does not apply, such as affidavits being filed in support of a motion for summary judgment or a motion for involuntary dismissal. Also, while Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213 requires a party to provide “sworn” answers to interrogatories, there is no requirement that the signature be notarized. Responses to requests for production of documents, however, call for an affidavit of compliance or completeness, which does require notarization.
Other jurisdictions have varying rules as well, and there has been a trend over the past several years to loosen the formerly strict requirements for verifying these types of documents. For example, under the federal rules, notarization is no longer required for affidavits, declarations, verification of discovery answers, so long as the document is either sworn or is subscribed by the author as being true under the penalty or perjury. This makes obtaining these types of documents for matters pending in federal court significantly less burdensome.
It is important to be cognizant of these requirements for notarization in your jurisdiction. Knowing which documents do not require notarization can save the company employees and other witnesses called upon to assist with an affidavit or other similar document a good deal of time and inconvenience in trying to locate a notary.
For more information about when notarization is required, or to learn about the rules in your jurisdiction, feel free to contact Liza Bryant.