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Subpoenas

If you need documents or other evidence for your case, or you want to make sure that a witness is going to come to court, you can issue a subpoena (pronounced supeena).

Step-by-step guide icon

​Subpoenas - Step by step guide ​

Step 1: Get the subpoena form

You need one form for each subpoena. You should choose which of these forms you need:

  • Subpoena for Production,
  • Subpoena to Give Evidence or
  • Subpoena for Production and to Give Evidence.

If you need documents or other evidence for your case, you can get the evidence by using a Subpoena for Production.

If you want to make sure a witness comes to the hearing to give evidence, you can serve them with a Subpoena to Give Evidence.

If you want a witness to produce documents and to attend court to give evidence you can apply for a Subpoena for Production and to Give Evidence.

You can get copies of forms from:

Step 2: Fill out th​e subpoena form

The subpoena must be addressed to a person.

If you are filling out a Subpoena to Give Evidence you should put the name of the person you want to come to court and give evidence.

If you are filling out a Subpoena for Production, you need to:

  • address the subpoena to the 'Proper Officer' in that company or organisation. If you don't know their name you can just write 'The Proper Officer',
  • contact the organisation to make sure the address of their registered office is correct, and
  • clearly describe which document or documents have to be provided.

Sample:Sample Subpoena to Give Evidence.

Step 3: File the sub​poena

When you have filled out the subpoena form, you should make three copies of the subpoena and send or take it to the court. There is no filing fee payable for a subpoena.

Alert Icon The court will fill in the date the documents have to be provided to the court and/or the date to attend the hearing. The court will also fill in the last date for serving the subpoena.

Step 4: Serve the subp​​oena

The subpoena must be served on (given to) the person it is addressed to. The court will write the last date for service on the subpoena when you file it. The subpoena must be served on or before that date.

You can pay for a professional process server to serve the subpoena or do it yourself. There are many different ways that you can serve the subpoena, including handing it to the person it is addressed to, emailing it to them or posting or faxing it to their residential address. If you are not sure how to serve the subpoena you should get legal advice.

When you serve the subpoena you must also give the person or organisation you are serving with the subpoena some money, called 'conduct money'. The amount to be given for a subpoena to produce is not specified but must be reasonable. Many organisations will have a set amount for conduct money. You should contact the organisation before serving the subpoena to make sure you provide enough conduct money.

The amount to be given for a Subpoena to Give Evidence should not be less than $50.05 (as at July 2014). This amount covers the cost of the witness travelling to attend court.

Alert Icon If you want to use a subpoena in your case, there are many rules about when you can serve a subpoena and how much time the person you serve must have before they need to respond to your subpoena. For information about these rules contact your Local Court or get legal advice.

Step 5: Fill out an A​ffidavit of Service

Whether you served the subpoena yourself or arranged for a friend or relative to do it, the person who served the subpoena needs to fill out and sign an Affidavit of Service setting out when and how the subpoena was served.

If a professional process server serves the subpoena, they will also prepare an Affidavit of Service.

Step 6: Go to court f​or the return of subpoena

The return of subpoena date, which is written on the subpoena, is the day the court has ordered for the person or organisation in the subpoena to:

  • bring the documents to court, or
  • attend to give evidence.

If it is a Subpoena for Production, the documents can also be posted to the court but they have to arrive by the return of subpoena date. On the return of subpoena date you should go to court and ask for leave (permission) to look at and/or make copies of the documents. Sometimes the registrar can give you access and sometimes you may need to ask the magistrate for leave to look at and/or make copies. You usually can't take the produced documents away from the court without a court order.

If the court has given you leave to look at and/or copy the documents you can do this on the return of subpoena date or come back on another day. You should check with the court how much they will charge to make photocopies of the documents if you have been given permission to copy them.

If the person or organisation that has been served with the subpoena can't find the documents you are asking for, they will need to tell the court that they haven't been able to find the documents.

Alert Icon The person the subpoena is addressed to may object to providing the documents or attending to give evidence. They can make an application to the court asking for the subpoena to be set aside. If this happens, you will be served with a copy of the application and get a chance to explain to the court why you need the documents and/or witness and how they are relevant to the case. You should get legal advice if someone objects to a subpoena you have served on them.

Alert Icon If a witness does not comply with a subpoena, the court may issue a warrant for their arrest and have them brought before the court. ​