The All Lanes Guide – When should I use a witness summons?

A witness may be content to attend court to give evidence, but it is likely for them to encounter complications in getting time off work. If served with a witness summons, their employer will need to give them time off work.  This is often why witnesses are offered a certain amount of money to appear in court, as this leave might be unpaid, which discourages the witness.

A witness might also be entirely willing to cooperate in the proceedings, but they are unable to attend without an official court order.  This could be the case where the witness is not permitted to relay the information for data protection or confidentiality without a court order.

If the evidence of a specific witness is significant to a case, and there is a any chance that the witness will not appear in court, it is often practical to serve a witness summons upon them.

However, if a witness has made it transparent that they do not wish to give evidence in a case, caution should be use to apply for a witness summons. This is predominantly the case if you do not know what the witness’ evidence is likely to be, as their evidence might end up aiding your opponent in the case.

A witness can request the court not to issue a witness summons that you have asked for (or to withdraw it if it has already been issued) if:

  • they do not have the documentation or information you think that they have;
  • they are not of the opinion that the documentation or information would be valid evidence;
  • they think their responsibilities or rights, or those of the person to whom the documentation or information pertain to (including that person’s rights of confidentiality), overshadow the motives for the application.

If any of these apply, the court must be contacted as soon as possible and clarify their protest in writing and send duplicates to the court office and to you.

If you are in need of someone who specialises in process serving, contact the team at All Lanes today.