Posted by Lewis on November 28, 2005
In Reply to: The truth,the whole truth and nothing but the truth posted by Victoria S Dennis on November 22, 2005
: : I'm seeking the origins of the phrase "the truth,the whole truth and nothing but the truth..." used to swear in a witness in court. Thanks
: It has been used in English law courts since the Middle Ages, possibly from time immemorial (that's technically the year 1189, by the way); it certainly was in use by the 13th century. Nobody is credited with having invented it; it probably just evolved as the simplest and most satisfactory formula. (VSD)
English law has strands from the Celtic tribes, the Romans, the Danes and the Normans. Oaths are very important in law and must be one of the earliest concepts to endure, as we still use them today.
the present system of oaths and affirmations permits many variations and the Court Service in England has a laminated card system containing the oaths for the most common 10-20 belief-systems.
there are lawyers who specialise in oaths and the witnessing of documents - they are called "Notaries" and it now involves about 2 years part-time study to be qualified as one.
there is often only 1 notary in a town and they have learned the formal requirements for each country in which legal documents might be needed. Strange thing is that out of 5 lawyers on-site, 2 of my colleagues are notaries.
somebody might know the Roman Law oaths, which might shed light on the question.
the truth - what the witness experienced
the whole truth - not leaving any material out
nothing but the truth - definitely no lies