Subpoenas: your rights and obligations

Subpoenas: your rights and obligations

A subpoena is a legal document asking a person to give evidence in a case even though they are not a party. If you receive a subpoena, the first thing you should determine is whether you have been subpoenaed to give evidence at Court or simply to produce documents to the Court.

Disobeying a subpoena is a contempt of court and you could be arrested or imprisoned for failing to comply. However, you do have rights. If you believe that a subpoena is asking you to do things which are not possible, excessively onerous or prejudicial, you should call us to discuss your concerns.

Subpoenas to produce documents

You are only required to provide documents which are within your possession, custody or control and which are described in the subpoena.

You can object to producing some or all documents based on several grounds, including:

  • any document that is not specified or described in the subpoena;
  • any document that was created for the dominant purpose of obtaining legal advice (this would include any letters to lawyers or reports written at a lawyer's request);
  • the subpoena requires you to search too large an amount of documents;
  • the subpoena requests a document the production of which would be injurious to public interest;
  • the subpoena was filed for an improper purpose, such as delaying proceedings, serving private interests or giving documents publicity;
  • the subpoena requires you to make fine judgements regarding relevance; or
  • the subpoena asks for documents which are not relevant to legal proceedings.

If you do not want to produce a document or think a subpoena may be objectionable, you should contact us.

Subpoenas to attend Court

If you are asked to attend Court, you must attend. If you cannot attend you need to inform the Court at your earliest opportunity.

If you feel you are unable to give the evidence asked because it is beyond your recall, knowledge or expertise, you can then object to giving that evidence.

To discuss your concerns, call Adviceline Injury Lawyers for free legal advice on (03) 9321 9988.

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