Family Court of Western Australia

Inspecting Subpoena Documents

When the Court issues a subpoena to produce documents, the documents are provided to the Court, not the parties. They are given to the Court on the return date.

When documents have been produced to the Court under a subpoena, you need permission of the Court or a Registrar to inspect or photocopy the subpoenaed material. There will be a subpoena hearing to discuss the documents, after which you will be given a subpoena sheet documenting the Court's permission for you to inspect or copy the documents.

If the Judicial Officer managing your case decides it is more appropriate, the subpoenaed documents may be discussed at a hearing that also deals with other issues rather than a specific subpoena hearing. The documents will usually be in the courtroom on the day of the hearing.

If you are given permission to inspect subpoenaed documents, you will need to make an appointment with the subpoena officer to inspect the documents.

Making an appointment to inspect documents

Appointments to inspect documents are arranged by appointment with the Subpoena Officer. Priority will be given to those cases listed for hearing that day. 

Contact the Subpoena Officer (08) 9224 8304

Restrictions on inspecting and copying certain documents

Parties and their representatives cannot usually copy documents produced pursuant to subpoena by:

  • the Department of Communities or any other Department or agency with responsibility for investigation of matters relating to the welfare of children
  • WA Police or any other agency with responsibility for investigation of crime and the maintenance of criminal records
  • hospitals or medical practitioners.

If you wish to copy these documents you need to:

  • give written notice to the agency or person that you intend to seek permission to copy the documents, then
  • request permission to copy the documents from the Judicial Officer managing your case. You can make the request at your hearing.

Unless the Judicial Officer gives express permission to copy the documents, you may only inspect the documents.

Inspection of medical records

If you have subpoenaed a person’s medical records, the person whose records have been produced may give notice to the Court that they want to inspect those medical records in order to decide if they wish to object to their inspection. If they object to their records being inspected, they are allowed to file their notice of objection within seven days after the date for production in the subpoena. In this case, you, or any other party or interested person, will not be permitted to inspect the medical records until the later of seven days after the date for production, or the hearing and determination of any objection.

Subpoenas and trial evidence

It is important to understand that any document lodged with the court under a subpoena does not automatically become part of the trial evidence. If you want the court to receive the document as evidence, you must seek to tender it in evidence during the trial.

If the court has given you permission to photocopy the subpoenaed documents, you should make copies of any documents that you intend to tender, so there are copies for the witness, each other party and the judicial officer. There are rules about whether documents produced under subpoena can be received as part of the evidence.

Restrictions on using subpoenaed documents

A person must only use documents obtained by subpoena for the purposes of the case and must not disclose the contents or give a copy of a document to any other person without the permission of a court.

Last updated: 16-Apr-2018

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