Subpoenas

The following information is designed to assist persons issuing a subpoena on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Failure to comply with the following requirements may result in delays in complying with the subpoena.

A subpoena is a legal document issued by a Court or Tribunal at the request of a party to legal proceedings.  A subpoena compels a person to produce documents or give evidence at a hearing or trial.

Responses for all subpoenas served on the Department are coordinated by the Paralegal Unit within the Department.

Issuing a subpoena

A subpoena to produce documents must be issued to the Proper Officer, Legal Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Please note, a subpoena to give evidence must be issued to the individual officer who will be required to give evidence.

Service of a subpoena

A subpoena can be served by one of the following methods:

  • Email
  • Post
  • Personal delivery

By Email:

paralegalunit@dfat.gov.au

Please note, the Department's preferred method of service is by email. If you serve a subpoena by email, you must also send the original documents to the Department by post, with a cheque for conduct money attached (refer to 'Conduct Money').

By Post:

The Proper Officer
Legal Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R G Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
Barton ACT 0221

Please note, if you serve a subpoena by post, you must also send a copy of the subpoena to the Department by email to paralegalunit@dfat.gov.au.

Personal Delivery:

Canberra
The Proper Officer
Legal Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R G Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
Barton ACT 0221

Sydney            
The Proper Officer
Legal Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
NSW State Office
Level 13
9 Castlereagh St- Sydney
Sydney  NSW  2000

Darwin
The Proper Officer
Legal Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
NT Office
5th Floor, Northern Territory House
22 Mitchell Street
Darwin NT 0800

Brisbane
The Proper Officer
Legal Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
QLD State Office
150 Charlotte Street (opposite Queensland Health)
Brisbane QLD 4000

Adelaide
The Proper Officer
Legal Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
SA State Office
5th Floor Allianz House
55 Currie St
Adelaide SA 5000

Melbourne
The Proper Officer
Legal Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
VIC State Office
Level 14, 55 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Perth
The Proper Officer
Legal Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
WA State Office
Level 17, Exchange Tower
Sherwood Court (off St Georges Terrace)
Perth WA 6000

Hobart
The Proper Officer
Legal Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Tasmanian State Office
Level 1, 111 Macquarie Street
HOBART TAS 7000

Compliance Time / Return Date

The Department requires a reasonable timeframe in which to respond to a subpoena. In general, a minimum of two weeks is considered reasonable for straightforward requests. Please note, the timeframe required to respond will be considerably longer than two weeks where:

  • the subpoena requests a large volume of documents;
  • documents might be held outside Australia;
  • documents might be held in archives; or
  • documents might contain sensitive material which must be reviewed before release.

If required, we will seek an extension to the date the documents are required to be produced to the court or tribunal.

Schedule of Subpoena

Please note, DFAT does not hold immigration, travel, visa, movement or entry/exit records. These records are held by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Further information is available on the DIBP website.

DFAT does hold records regarding the issuing of passports and consular matters.

A subpoena for production of documents must clearly identify the documents to be produced to the court or tribunal. If the documents are not clearly identified or the terms of the subpoena are ambiguous, it might not be possible for the Department to produce documents or the correct documents in response to the subpoena.

Where possible, a subpoena should specify a date period for documents.

In instances where the subpoena requests documents that relate to an individual, corporation or a business, the schedule of the subpoena must contain the following information:

  1. Individuals:
    • Full name
    • Aliases
    • Date of birth
    • Passport number (if known)
  2. Corporations (including companies):
    • Entity name
    • Australian Business Number (ABN) or Australian Company Number (ACN)
  3. Businesses:
    • Full business or trading name
    • Australian Business Number (ABN)

Please note that while the Department undertakes searches of readily accessible electronic and hard copy records and databases, it is possible that some material relevant to a subpoena may be held in electronic or hard copy archives. As searching such archives is an extremely time-consuming as well as expensive undertaking, these searches will not be undertaken unless specifically requested. If such a request is made, we will prepare an estimate of the likely time and cost necessary to complete the search.

Conduct Money

The Department requests payment of conduct money be made at the time of service of a subpoena.  This is a discretionary amount, usually between $25 and $50. The payment is a contribution towards the costs incurred by the Department of accessing, collating and producing the requested documents to the appropriate court or tribunal.  The Department reserves the right to apply to the court or tribunal for the subpoena applicant to pay for any reasonable additional costs incurred in complying with the subpoena.

If the subpoena is served by email, the Department will accept an undertaking from a solicitor to pay the requested costs.  A copy of the subpoena with a cheque stapled to the subpoena must be posted to:

The Proper Officer
Legal Division
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
R G Casey Building
John McEwen Crescent
Barton ACT 0221

The cheque must be made payable to the "Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade".  The cheque must also have the details of the subpoena printed on the back of the cheque in case the documents become separated.

Objections

DFAT can apply to the court to set aside a subpoena in whole or in part in limited circumstances. For example, where the subpoena is oppressive or unduly burdensome or where it calls for sensitive material that should be protected from disclosure.

We will only object to a subpoena as a last resort and will, where practicable, first seek to negotiate with the subpoena applicant or their solicitor and seek their agreement to the Department's requests.

Last Updated: 25 October 2017