Subpoenas and Witness Summonses

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Purpose of this policy

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • explain the obligations created by subpoenas and witness summonses
  • advise staff of the legal resources available to assist them to comply with these obligations.


Generally, staff should not provide a written statement, produce documents, or give evidence in a legal proceeding unless they have received a subpoena or witness summons.

Any staff member who receives a request to provide a written statement, produce documents, or give evidence, should contact the Legal Division for advice and assistance.

Any staff member who has been served with a subpoena or witness summons should contact the Legal Division for advice and assistance in complying with their obligations.

For information on responding to a subpoena, see: Responding to Legal Claims, Writs and Subpoenas

What is a subpoena or witness summons?

A subpoena or witness summons is a legal document that meets the following criteria:

  • It has been issued by a Court or a Tribunal.
  • It is addressed to an individual, an office holder, or a nominal person.
  • It requires an individual to produce documents and/or to give evidence and provides a specific date, time and place for the individual to do so.
  • It relates to a legal proceeding to which the individual is not a party.

The obligation to comply with the subpoena or witness summons overrides any obligations that staff may have under privacy legislation (e.g. Information Privacy Act 2000 and the Health Records Act 2001) or Departmental policy.

However, there are also some rules about when staff may not be required to comply with the subpoena or witness summons.

There are strict time limits so it is important to obtain legal advice as soon as practicable after staff have received the subpoena or witness summons.

There are also serious consequences for not complying with a subpoena or witness summons.

Role of the Legal Division

The Legal Division can explain the staff member's obligations under the subpoena or witness summons. It can also provide staff with advice and assistance in meeting these obligations.

Contacting the Legal Division

The contact details for the Legal Division are as follows: 


Legal Division  
Department of Education and Training  
GPO Box 4367   

Melbourne Victoria 3001  

Telephone: (03) 9637 3146 

Fax:   (03) 9637 2750 


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