What actions to take when given a subpoena - Australian Wills and Estate Law
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What actions to take when given a subpoena

A subpoena is a legal document outlining the requirements for a firm or person to provide documents, evidence and/or attend a hearing in court. A failure to comply with a subpoena is a contempt of court and can be met with further legal action most likely have detrimental effects for the rest of the case.

As a result, it is important to act quickly when served a subpoena so that you can get on top of the issue quickly and do not fail to comply with its demands.

You must comply with a legal subpoena

Complying with the subpoena

A subpoena will clearly outline the required documents and the time and date that they must be submitted by.

All subpoenas issued on or the day before their last day of service must be honoured. Those issued earlier provide time for the receiving party to decide whether they want to object it. Regardless, action must be taken swiftly to ensure that they comply with the laws of the court. Should the party require more time to collate the required documents they may request so upon outlining reasons why and that they will have the required documents when possible.

It is important to note that the subpoena should be returned to the court and not the party requesting the information. A copy of the original documents, unless otherwise specified, is acceptable.

Objecting a subpoena

There are a few conditions in which it may be acceptable to object the subpoena;

  • If the subpoena issued does not provide a clear outline or is too broad
  • If the subpoena has been issued with improper or irrelevant motives such as in the hope of finding something that may be relevant but without particular cause
  • If the documents that have been requested are confidential between the lawyer and client

Should any of the above situations exist from your point of view, it is wise to seek professional legal advice to aid you in your case so that you are able to make the best decision and have the best chance of a successful case.


When issued with a subpoena, there may be instances where it takes considerable time and effort to find or produce the documents. This may include travel and photocopying costs that otherwise would not have been incurred. You should keep track of all the costs and time required to produce the documents so that you can be adequately reimbursed by the party requesting the documents.

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