Ontario Superior Court of Justice Trials

Getting your Witnesses to Trial: Summons or Subpoena, Attendance Money, Logistics

Sometimes you need to track down your eyewitnesses.  The good samaritan leaves a business card or cell number, but many disappear.  Get on top of this fast.

Even if you know how to track them down, cooperation can be a challenge because most witnesses do not want to get involved in a lawsuit or criminal matter.  A persuasive in-person meeting is best and locking down a written statement, under oath if possible, is ideal as memories fade and some witnesses are cooperative at first, but not later on when it turns out they need to be in Court.

The next challenge is getting your witness to the trial.  This will require a summons in civil matters and subpoena in criminal matters. We’ve got a precedent summonses on our trial resources page.

Witnesses need to be paid $50 per day for their attendance plus some travel and possibly overnight accommodation.  The tariff on how to calculate these amounts is also on our trial resources page.

The inevitable disruption to a witness’s schedule and the natural anxiety of being a witness means that most will require a great deal of hand-holding.  This goes beyond witness preparation to logistics of where to go (Courtroom assignments may be unknown until the day before or day of the hearing), when to get there (an order excluding witnesses may mean they spend hours in a hallway), what to bring (they may have some exhibits that they did not want to part with) and even possibly general comments on attire.

Part of your trial team should be running these logistics from outside the Courtroom.

The simplest way to keep a witness as content as possible is to routinely let them know what’s happening and what’s next.

This article is courtesy of the Ontario Civil Trial Manual

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