Reading and writing legal documents
This section provides you with practical information about how to prepare legal documents.
It can help you with:
If you have a legal issue, many of the documents you may need to write will require similar skills. Learning these skills can help you write clear and precise legal documents.
For more information about skills that are useful for writing legal documents, see
Reading legal documents
If you need to write a response to a legal document you have received, such as:
- a letter of demand
- a Statement of Claim
- an offer of settlement
- an affidavit,
you need to be able to understand what the legal document you have received says.
For more information on how to read legal documents, see
Reading legal documents.
If you have a legal issue, you may need to write letters to:
- a court or tribunal
- the person you are in dispute with (or their lawyers)
- third parties.
Letters can be written for a number of reasons, including to:
- offer settlement
- make demands, (for example, for the payment of money)
- ask for a change in a timetable or orders made by a court.
For more information on how to write different types of letters, see
Affidavits, statements and statutory declarations
If you have a legal issue, you may need to prepare evidence to support your side of the case. Affidavits, statements and statutory declarations may be used as evidence. The things you should write in an affidavit, statement or statutory declaration will depend on the type of case you are involved in, and what you are trying to prove.
For more information on what to include in these documents and how to write them, see
Affidavits, statements and statutory declarations.
If a person or organisation has documents that you need for your court case, you should contact them and ask them to provide you with copies of the documents. If they will not, or cannot, give you copies of the documents, you may need to apply for a subpoena.
A subpoena is a court order that tells a person to:
- provide another person with documents and/or information
- attend court as a witness.
This section covers:
- who can apply for a subpoena
- what should be in a subpoena
- what should not be in a subpoena
- filing and serving a subpoena
- short service of a subpoena
- conduct money
- complying with a subpoena
- inspecting documents produced under subpoena
- objecting to a subpoena
- what happens to documents or things produced to the court.
For more information, see Subpoenas.
Agreements and settlements
Many cases (both before they get to court and during court) end with both parties agreeing to settle their differences. If you settle your case, or reach agreement with the other party, you can put your agreement in writing.
For more information on how to do this, see
Agreements and settlements.
Emails and faxes
Sometimes you may need to send documents or letters by email or fax. There are things you should think about when sending an email or fax, and certain information you should include.
For more information, see
Emails and faxes.