NJ Court Rules Allow PDF Affidavits and Certifications, Remove Requirement of Attorney Certifying to the Signature

NJ Court Rule 1:4-4(c) was recently revised to clarify that affidavits and certifications may be sent by fax, PDF, or any similar format. The revision also removes the requirement of an additional attorney certification. The changes in the rule are highlighted below:

NJ Court Rule 1:4-4: Affidavits

(a) Form. Every affidavit shall run in the first person and be divided into numbered paragraphs as in pleadings. The caption shall include a designation of the particular proceeding the affidavit supports or opposes and the original date, if any, fixed for hearing. Ex parte affidavits may be taken outside the State by a person authorized to take depositions under R. 4:12-2 and R. 4:12-3.

(b) Certification in Lieu of Oath. In lieu of the affidavit, oath or verification required by these rules, the affiant may submit the following certification which shall be dated and immediately precede the affiant’s signature: “I certify that the foregoing statements made by me are true. I am aware that if any of the foregoing statements made by me are wilfully false, I am subject to punishment.”

(c) Facsimile Signature. If the affiant is not available to sign an affidavit or certification, it may be filed with a facsimile of the original signature provided the attorney offering the document certifies that the affiant acknowledged the genuineness of the signature and that the document or a copy with an original signature affixed will be filed if requested by the court or a party.  Requirement for Original SignatureEvery affidavit or certification shall be filed with an original signature, except that a copy of an affidavit or certification may be filed instead, provided that the affiant signs a document that is sent by facsimile or in Portable Document Format (PDF), or similar format by the affiant and provided that the attorney or party filing the copy of the affidavit or certification files the original document if requested by the court or a party.

Prior to this amendment, “an affidavit or certification . . . [could] be filed with a facsimile (faxed) signature, if the attorney offering it certifies that the affiant acknowledged the genuineness of the signature and that the document or a copy with an original signature will be filed if requested by the court or a party.” Bank v. Kim, 361 N.J. Super. 331, 342 (App. Div. 2003).

In other words, faxed signatures on affidavits and certifications were acceptable as long as the attorney completed an additional certification. 

The recent amendment, effective September 1, 2014, clarifies that the affiant may sign a document that is sent by fax, PDF, or any similar format.  The amendment also removes the attorney certification requirement and requires only that the attorney produce the original document if requested by the court or a party.

This is obviously a great revision because it acknowledges the prevailing use of PDF documents. It is also suspected that this rule was amended in contemplation of a future electronic filing system for the entire NJ Court system.


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