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If you have been served with a witness summons to attend, you must do so at the time, date and place specified on the summons.
You do not have to comply with a witness summons if you are under the age of 16 years. However, you will need to give notice in writing and proof of your age before being excused from attending. You may contact the Office of Chief Examiner to discuss how to do this.
If your summons requires you to attend to give evidence, it may include some information on what you will be questioned about.
Your witness summons may also require you to produce a document or other thing. You must bring that document or thing with you to the examination. You may be asked questions at the examination about the document or thing.
You may receive a witness summons that requires you to produce a document or thing but not to give evidence. If you receive this type of summons, you must attend before the Chief Examiner at the time, date and place stated on the summons, with the document or thing.
It is an offence to fail to attend before the Chief Examiner to give evidence or produce documents or things (or both) – unless you have a reasonable excuse. The offence carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
A witness summons is usually served about 7 days before the date of an examination. This is designed to give you enough time to rearrange any other commitments, such as work, and get legal advice if you wish to.
The Supreme Court or the Chief Examiner can issue a witness summons requiring a witness to attend immediately, in certain circumstance
Legal advice and representation
You are entitled to seek legal advice about a witness summons you have received. You are also entitled to have a qualified legal practitioner represent you at your examination.
Sometimes the Chief Examiner may not authorise the legal practitioner of your choice to be present at the examination – for example, if they have a conflict of interest or it may prejudice the investigation.
Legal representatives should contact the Office of Chief Examiner before your examination to tell us that they plan to attend with you.
When served with a witness summons, you may also be given a Notice of Confidentiality. This Notice prohibits you from telling any other person that you have received a witness summons or any other information relating to the summons, unless you have a reasonable excuse.
Notices can be given to protect the safety of a person, the fair trial of a person suspected of or charged with an offence, or an ongoing investigation.
If you receive a Notice of Confidentiality, it is very important that you do not tell any person (apart from your legal representative, if you wish) about your witness summons. If you do, you may commit an offence.
A Notice of Confidentiality does not prevent you from discussing your summons with a legal representative to get advice or arrange to be represented at your examination. However, you must tell your legal representative that they are also bound by the Notice and may commit an offence if they disclose the information to anyone else.
Reviewed 24 March 2021