What is a subpoena?
A subpoena is an order issued by the Court to compel a person or business to either produce records, or attend court as a witness, or both. The Court issues a subpoena at the request of one of the parties to the proceedings and the document will be served on you.
Do I have to comply with it?
Yes, unless it was not served on you correctly. If you have any concerns about the service of the subpoena you should contact a lawyer to discuss the matter. There are very serious consequences if you do not comply with the subpoena, including the Court issuing a warrant for your arrest or ordering you to pay any costs caused by your non-compliance. The court may also find you guilty of contempt of court.
How do I comply?
If the subpoena is to give evidence, check the date, time and location that you are required to attend. The party serving the subpoena must also provide you with reasonable conduct money to cover any travel expenses, accommodation, meals etc. If they have not you can contact the party issuing the subpoena and request the conduct money.
If the subpoena is for the production of documents you can either provide the originals or copies of the documents. Read the subpoena carefully, it will tell you when and where to produce the documents. The documents get sent to the court, not the other party. Again the party issuing the subpoena should provide you with reasonable conduct money to produce the documents.
The information they have requested is sensitive and I am reluctant to produce it. What do I do?
If you have concerns about the nature of the material that the other party has requested, because it doesn’t seem relevant, is privileged or somehow else sensitive, then you need to get independent legal advice as soon as possible. There are a number of legal grounds that you can object to the subpoena, but you have to let all parties know with adequate time. Arguing against a subpoena involves complex areas of law, so it is wise to have a lawyer handle this side of things for you.
Receiving a Subpoena from the Family Courts can be intimidating if you are not familiar with the process, or have real reservations about what they are seeking you to produce. Culshaw Miller Lawyers can guide you through the process and discuss your options at an initial consultation.