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A subpoena is a court order that tells someone to produce something and/or give evidence at a hearing or trial.
A subpoena can only be issued when a case is before a court. A court can’t make an order unless there are court proceedings in progress.
This page has information about:
You can apply for a subpoena if you are a party in a case that is currently before a court.
You can apply for a subpoena if:
To apply for a subpoena you must fill out the approved form and file it with the court. Each court will have its own form that you can download from the courts website.
You may need permission from the court to apply for a subpoena.
There may be a limit to how many subpoenas you can apply for without the courts permission.
Each court has its own rules for when you can apply for a subpoena. You should check the courts rules before applying for a subpoena.
The document(s) and information produced under a subpoena are available to all of the parties in your case. You should not apply for a subpoena if you believe the document(s) or information might be harmful to your case.
Before applying for a subpoena, you should get legal advice.
If you are going to apply for a subpoena you will need:
the name of document(s) or thing(s) to be produced. You must provide a clear description of the document(s) or information that you require.
You can name two or more people in a subpoena if:
A subpoena should not include a request for:
If you are not sure how to prepare a subpoena, you should get legal advice.
Depending on the court, you may be able file your subpoena online or in person, at the registry where the court is located.
If you are filing your subpoena in person, you must file:
You may have to pay a fee to file your subpoena. You should contact the court or check the court’s website to find out whether you will have to pay a fee.
When the court receives your documents it will:
The court will keep your original subpoena for its records.
The subpoena must be personally given to the person it is addressed to by the date for service. You must also serve every other party to the case with a copy of your subpoena. You can pay for a professional process server to serve the subpoena or do it yourself.
Each court has its own rules for time limits for service of subpoenas. You should check the courts rules before you attempt service.
If you do not serve your subpoena correctly, it may not be valid.
Sometimes, you might need to apply for an extension of time for the service of a subpoena. For example, you find out about new evidence a few days before your hearing date and you don’t have time to comply with the standard rules.
A court may order short service if it is satisfied that it is in the interests of justice to do so. Any order made for short service must be attached to the subpoena and served.
If you are considering applying for an order for short service of a subpoena, you should get legal advice.
To apply for an order for short service, you will need a Notice of Motion form and an affidavit in support of your application.
You can get copies of forms from:
Conduct money is money paid to a person who receives a subpoena to cover the cost of producing the document(s) or going to court.
You must pay conduct money when you serve your subpoena.
The amount you pay:
You should check the court rules to find out if there is a minimum amount you must pay.
If you do not pay conduct money, the subpoenaed person is not required to comply with the subpoena. You may be ordered by the court to pay the amount requested by the person subpoenaed.
Before you serve your subpoena, you should contact the subpoenaed person to find out how much conduct money they will require to comply with the subpoena.
If you have received a subpoena, you must comply with it unless you have a lawful excuse not to. For example, you were served after the date for service or you were not given conduct money.
If you do not comply with a subpoena, and you do not have a lawful excuse, you may be held in contempt of court and a warrant may be issued for your arrest. You may also be ordered to pay another party’s legal costs.
If you are going to post the requested documents to the court, they must arrive by the return date.
If you have received a subpoena that you do not want to or cannot comply with, you should get legal advice.
When the documents you have requested have been provided to the court, you must ask the courts permission to inspect the documents. To do this, you must file the approved form with the court before the hearing.
Each court has its own form that you must use.
At the hearing, the court will have to decide whether to allow you access to the documents it has been provided. If the court grants you access, there are three orders it can make:
If you are only allowed to view the documents, you should make detailed notes of what information is in the documents. It is a good idea to bring a notepad and pen with you to the court when you are inspecting documents.
You may have to pay a fee to photocopy the subpoenaed documents.
If you want to uplift any documents, you may have to fill out a form to ask the court for permission. You should check the courts rules before you take any documents.
You can object to a subpoena on the following grounds:
Depending on the type of objection you want to make, you may be able to send a notice to the court explaining your reasons for objection or you may have to attend court to explain your reasons in person.
You should check the courts rules about objecting to subpoenas.
If you want to object to a subpoena, you should get legal advice.
You can object to a subpoena where:
If you were not given enough conduct money, you should contact the person who sent you the subpoena to fix the problem.
If they will not give you the money you need, you must raise an objection at court. You must do this before you give them the documents they want.
A subpoena may be oppressive if it:
A subpoena is not oppressive just because it is inconvenient.
A court may set aside a subpoena if:
To object on this ground, you must go to the hearing and ask the court to set aside the subpoena.
You can object to a subpoena if the document(s) or information sought is protected by one of the following types of privilege:
You can object to a subpoena on these grounds even if you are not the person named in the subpoena, but you must have a sufficient interest in the document(s) or information requested.
If you cannot object to a subpoena because of privilege, but the document(s) requested contain your private information, you may be able to object to your private information being shared. A court may refuse inspection or limit access to documents if it decides that the documents:
You may also be able to object to a subpoena on the grounds that it contains:
This information is generally protected.
Documents or things that were not made an exhibit will be returned once the original case is finished.
Documents or things that were made an exhibit will be returned after:
The court will not return any material which it has written on or marked in some way.