Guidelines for requesting the issue of a summons to appear
We may issue a summons at the request of a party or at the direction of VCAT. We must first set a hearing date before a party can request the issue of a summons to appear.
Use our Summons to appear form to ask us to issue a summons for a person to attend a hearing (usually by video conference or phone), and give evidence or produce certain documents. You will need to pay a fee for VCAT to issue the summons.
Temporary regulations made in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have brought changes to the way in which a person can respond to a summons. A person summonsed may attend a VCAT hearing by audio or audiovisual link, and may deliver summonsed documents to VCAT electronically (eg. by email).
Completing the Summons to appear form
Identify the person to be summonsed by name, description, office or position.
To summons an organisation, direct the summons to a person authorised to act on behalf of the organisation. For example:
Contact person’s name
This Company Pty Ltd
Melbourne Vic 3000
The summons to produce documents must identify and properly describe the specific document/s or things to be produced.
Filing the summons to appear
Once you have completed the summons you need to file it at VCAT. You must provide three copies of the summons. We will keep the original summons and give you back the copies, sealed with the tribunal’s stamp. You must serve a copy of the sealed summons on the witness.
Serving the summons to appear
You must serve a copy of the sealed summons on the witness allowing reasonable time before the hearing.
You must also serve a copy of the summons on each party after serving on the witness. This copy does not need to be sealed or served personally (eg. you may serve other parties electronically).
Serving the summons on an individual
You must serve the summons on an individual by:
- delivering it personally
- sending it by post, facsimile or other electronic transmission to the person at their usual or last known residential or business address, or
- by leaving it at the person’s usual or last known residential or business address with a person on the premises who is apparently at least 16 years old and apparently residing or employed there.
Serving the summons on a company
You must serve the summons on a company by:
- delivering it personally to the registered office of the company
- sending it by post, facsimile or other electronic transmission to the registered office of the company, or
- in any other way documents may be sent to a body corporate.
Serving the summons on an incorporated association
You must serve the summons on an incorporated association in accordance with section 217 of the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012.
Serving the summons to an unincorporated association
You must serve the summons on an unincorporated association by:
- delivering it personally to the president, secretary or other similar officer of the association, or
- sending it by post, facsimile or other electronic transmission to the president, secretary or other similar officer of the association at that person’s usual or last known residential or business address.
Serving the summons by advertisement or publication
If VCAT directs that notice be given by advertisement or publication of the notice, that advertisement or publication will be deemed to be service of notice.
If serving outside of Victoria
VCAT may give permission to serve interstate a summons to appear if:
- we deem giving evidence or production of documents is required in the interest of justice
- there is enough time for the witness to comply with the summons without hardship or serious inconvenience.
The person requesting the issue of a summons to appear must provide an affidavit that addresses the two points above.
The affidavit should clarify if the witness is only required to attend to produce documents or things. See a draft copy of an affidavit in support of issuing interstate a summons to appear.
Witnesses are not required to attend a hearing in person unless we instruct them to. They will usually present at the hearing by phone or video conference.
Documents required to be served at the same time as an interstate summons to appear
In addition to serving interstate a summons to appear, a person requesting the issue of a summons must also attach a Form 5 under the Service and Execution of Process Act to each summons to appear. See an example of a Form 5 – Notice to witness.
The Form 5 notice sets out the rights and obligations of the witness being served and of the person requesting the issue of the summons.
Paying for expenses related to a summons to appear
If the person summonsed is required to attend the hearing in person, the person serving on them must supply a sufficient sum of money for travel-related expenses. Expenses should cover the return travel between a summonsed person’s place of residence or employment and the VCAT venue.
VCAT may also consider a request from the summonsed person for additional expenses incurred in complying with a summons, such as any accommodation costs.
After serving the summons to appear
After serving the summons to appear you must complete and sign an affidavit of service and return it with the summons to appear to the tribunal. You may use the affidavit of service form that is attached to the summons to appear form.
Where a company or unincorporated association is served, the affidavit of service form available on our website may not be appropriate. In these instances, you may wish to draft your own affidavit.
Does a person have to comply with a summons to appear?
The person summonsed must comply with a summons to appear. If they do not have a lawful excuse for not complying with a summons to appear, VCAT may issue a warrant for their arrest.
The person summonsed may attend the hearing via phone or video conference. Sometimes we require the person summonsed to attend the hearing in person.
- Title Guidelines for requesting the issue of a summons to appear
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