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 or before the production date.

When documents have been produced to the Court under a subpoena, you will be able to inspect the subpoenaed material, provided the party who sought the subpoena be issued (the ‘issuing party’) has served all relevant parties, no objections have been received and the issuing party has filed a Notice of Request to Inspect.

Documents that can be viewed and copied will be available for viewing by parties and their legal representatives on the eCourts Portal of WA. Copies can be downloaded by parties.

Documents that can be viewed only, and NOT copied (see below) will need to be inspected at the Subpoena Office at the Court Registry. You will need to make an appointment with the subpoena officer to inspect the documents no earlier than 3 business days after the Notice of Request to Inspect has been filed.

You will be required to read and sign an Information Sheet which sets out your responsibilities in relation to the subpoenaed documents before any inspection.

Making an appointment to inspect documents

Appointments to inspect documents are arranged by appointment with the Subpoena Officer. Contact the Subpoena Officer (08) 9224 8304.

Restrictions on 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 or police records
  • hospitals or medical practitioners or any agency that holds medical records.

If you wish to copy these documents you need to:

  • give written notice to the agency or person (when serving the subpoena on them) 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 will need to make the request in writing and ensure you have provided a copy of your request to all other parties to the proceedings.

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, that person 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 by any other party. If they object to their records being inspected, they must file their Part F 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.

Removal of confidential information from documents produced

If a party wants the opportunity to inspect the documents produced before any other party to determine if any information contained in the documents should be redacted/removed (for example their confidential address), then they will need to file and serve the Part F Notice of objection before the production date or otherwise the other parties and the Independent Children’s Lawyer have an automatic right to inspect the documents.

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: 30-Nov-2021

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