What is a summons?
A summons is a legal notice issued by the AAT which requires a person to:
- give the AAT documents relating to a review
- attend and give evidence to the AAT, or
- do both of these things.
It is a criminal offence for a person not to comply with a summons that has been properly given to them, unless complying with it might tend to incriminate them.
We have a fact sheet with more information for a person who receives a summons to produce documents.
Who can request a summons?
Any party to a review can ask us to issue a summons. We will decide whether the summons should be issued.
We can also decide to issue a summons ourselves without a request from a party if we think that evidence or documents are required for the review.
Requesting a summons
If you want us to issue a summons, send us:
For each summons you want us to issue, you should explain:
- how the documents you want the person to give us or the evidence the person would give are relevant to the issues the AAT must decide in your review, and
- the importance of the documents or evidence to your case.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, if you want us to issue a summons to produce documents from a health practitioner or practice, a hospital, a police force or another emergency services agency, you must:
- contact the person or organisation and try to negotiate an agreed time for them to comply with the summons, and
- tell us in your request the agreed time or that you were unable to reach agreement about a time for compliance.
You can send us your request and draft summons online. You can also give them to us:
Before we decide whether or not to issue the summons, we might ask you for more information or hold a directions hearing.
Approved forms for summonses
There are three different approved summons forms. Choose the form that is right for what you want the person to do.
Fill in all the details on the form except for:
- the time, date and place fields in a summons to produce documents – we will fill in these details about when and where the documents must be given to us, and
- the signature field and the date of the summons.
A summons requiring a person to give evidence must be addressed to an individual.
A summons to produce documents must be addressed to a legal entity, usually an individual, a company, or a government department or agency. A summons to an entity that is not an individual should be addressed to ‘The Proper Officer'.
Giving the summons to the addressee
If we issue a summons at your request, you must give it to the person named in the summons in one of the approved ways. Look at sections 12 and 17 of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Regulation 2015 for more information about how to do this.
If you want to give a summons to a person who is not a party to the review by email or by fax, they must agree to this before you send it to them.
You must also give the person a copy of the AAT’s Notice to a person summoned to produce documents. We will give you a copy of this notice when we send you the summons.
Fees and allowances associated with a summons
If you ask us to issue a summons, you are required to pay certain amounts to the person for complying with the summons. If we issue a summons without a request from a party, we will pay those amounts.
Fees or allowances are not paid to a person who is a party to the review unless we order that they should be paid.
Summons requiring a person to give evidence
A person summoned to give evidence must be paid:
- the amount of wages, salary or fees not paid to them because they appeared before the AAT to give evidence, or
- a reasonable amount for each day the person appears before the AAT to give evidence.
This amount must be paid as soon as possible after the person has given evidence.
The person summoned to give evidence must also be paid a reasonable amount for expenses to appear before us, including:
- transport costs to and from the place where they give their evidence, and
- if the person is required to be absent overnight from their usual place of residence, meals and accommodation.
These amounts must be paid a reasonable time before the day the person is required to give evidence.
Summons requiring a person to produce documents
A person summoned to produce documents must be paid a reasonable amount for their expenses to produce the documents.
This amount is usually paid when the person is given the summons.
Look at sections 13, 14 and 15 of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Regulation 2015 for more information about fees and allowances.
If a person thinks that the amount paid to them is not enough, they must still comply with the summons. If we issued the summons at your request and the person cannot agree on an amount with you, they can apply to the AAT to determine the amount that should be paid.
Objecting to a summons
If a party or the person who receives a summons wants us to make an order revoking or varying a summons that we have issued, they must apply to the AAT. A request should be made in writing explaining why and be made as soon as possible. We might hold a directions hearing before we make a decision.
Inspecting documents produced in response to a summons
When documents are produced in response to a summons, we usually make an order allowing the parties to inspect them. The order specifies when each party can inspect the documents. Unless we order otherwise, you can make copies of them. We might give you access to the documents electronically.
If you are a party and you want us to make an order that another party not be allowed to inspect any of the documents, you must make a request in writing explaining why before the other party inspects the documents. The person who receives a summons can also ask us to make an order that a party not be allowed to inspect some or all of the documents. We might hold a directions hearing before we make a decision.