By Virtue of Office: Commissioner of Oaths Changes

Starting July 1, paralegals will no longer need to apply to be appointed Commissioners for Taking Oaths. A new regulation will designate licensed paralegals as commissioners for taking affidavits by virtue of office. All licensed paralegals will be able to take affidavits without having to apply for a commissioner appointment and paying an appointment fee.

To explain the changes and outline what this will mean for all paralegals, the Law Society presents a free webcast session in June: “A Primer for Paralegals as Commissioners for Taking Affidavits.”

The CPD is available at the LSUC site.

Cathy Corsetti, chair of the Paralegal Standing Committee, says the event is “A great CPD for Paralegals.”

The session takes place June 7 from 1-2 pm, via webcast only. Participation is worth one substantive CPD hour, for paralegals who are in at least their second full year of practice. Speakers scheduled are Phil Brown, Counsel, Professional Development & Competence with the Law Society, and Robert Schipper, Barrister and Solicitor. They will take questions following explanations of changes to regulations under the Commissioner for Taking Affidavits Act, the formalities of taking oaths, duties of a Commissioner, handling special cases, and “avoiding trouble.”

Commissions will not expire unless the Law Society licence is revoked, surrendered or suspended. Commissioners who are currently using a ministry-authorized commissioner stamp may continue to do so until the expiry date or may choose to update the stamp.

While not mandatory, Commissioners by virtue of office may use a stamp as evidence of their authority. A stamp will reduce the risk that affidavits and declarations will be questioned or rejected because a recipient cannot confirm the Commissioner’s status. Stamps can be ordered from print shops and office supply companies.

The wording on the stamp will not be subject to ministry approval, but suggested wording is:

    Jane Doe, a Commissioner etc. for the Province of Ontario while being a licensed paralegal

The phrase “a Commissioner, etc.,…” is an abbreviation of “A commissioner for taking affidavits in and for the courts in Ontario,” pursuant to the Commissioner for Taking Affidavits Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.17, s. 4 (4). More details on the change are available from the Law Society.

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