WHAT IF: I receive a subpoena?

WHAT IF: I receive a subpoena?

What is a subpoena?

A subpoena compels a witness to provide a court with information or documents on a specific date, time and location. It is issued by an officer of the court (for example the registrar of the court) and is usually served (formally delivered) by the sheriff of the court.

The subpoena will state whether the witness must testify in person and whether specific documents must be made available to the court.

There are two types of subpoenas:

Asking for documents: Subpoena ducestecum (Latin phrase meaning “bring with you”). This subpoena requires you to produce documents or other tangible evidence for use at a hearing or trial. The first page of the subpoena will display a date before or on which you have to provide the documents or evidence.

Asking for testimony: Subpoena ad testificandum (Latin phrase for “to testify”). This subpoena demands you to appear in person and give oral testimony for use at a hearing or trial. The first page of this subpoena will display a date and time on which you have to appear at the court.

You only have to provide the documents or items that have been asked for and listed in the subpoena. The subpoena will tell you who, where and when to deliver the documents to (for example, the relevant attorney or prosecutor who requested the documents).

Don’t confuse a subpoena with a summons. A summons is a legal document that initiates a civil case or a criminal investigation against a particular defendant or accused while a subpoena is issued to a witness. Remember that you are obliged to comply with a properly issued and served subpoena unless the relevant attorney or prosecutor that issued the subpoena has agreed and confirmed in writing that you do not have to comply with it.

What to do first?

  1. Check the heading of the document and ensure that it is a subpoena and not a summons or any other legal document
  2. Check whether the subpoena refers to the term “duces tecum” or “ad testificandum”
  3. Check that the name of the person being subpoenaed is you. If the subpoena doesn’t describe you or your official capacity correctly, you should refuse the subpoena and inform the sheriff
  4. If the sheriff insists on leaving a copy, then follow the steps set out below<:
    • Take note of the name of the court on the top of the first page
    • Take note of the court date indicated in the subpoena
    • Identify what documents or evidence is required and listed in the subpoena
    • Log in to Natmed.mobi and register the subpoena. Also upload a copy of the subpoena to the system
    • Call the legal helpline on 0824 628 633 for assistance with the next steps

What is the next step?

We will assist you by notifying the relevant insurer to check whether the claim is covered by the insurance contract.

When you receive a subpoena, consider if you have any exposure to a claim or complaint. Is there a chance that providing information to the attorney or prosecutor creates a potential risk to be sued yourself? We will discuss the possibility of exposure with you and advise you accordingly. Although you might just be a witness, we need to ensure that the situation is appropriately managed to avoid or minimize any risk to you.

We will confirm whether the subpoena is a subpoena duces tecum or ad testificandum. If it is a subpoena duces tecum, we will ask you to send us all the records in your possession so that we can assess them against the documents demanded in the subpoena before we deliver them to the requesting attorney or prosecutor. If it is a subpoena ad testificandum, we will appoint attorneys approved by the insurer to assist in preparing you for your testimony and to appear with you at court on the relevant day, if necessary.

Refer to the Natmed Glossary of Medical Malpractice and Insurance Terms for further clarity.

Download PDF