Chapter 17 - Witnesses

Summoning of witnesses

Where the Senate or a committee makes a decision to summon a witness, a summons is issued by the Clerk of the Senate or the secretary of the committee, respectively. In the case of a committee, the failure of a witness to respond to a summons is reported to the Senate (SO 176). This requirement for committees to report any failure to comply with a summons arises from the fact that only the Senate can deal with any contempt (see Chapter 2, Parliamentary Privilege).

The Senate may order particular witnesses to appear before committees (7/2/1995, J.2895-7; 6/6/1995, J.3364-5; 22/10/1997, J.2673; 21/10/1999, J.1966; 10/4/2000, J.2582-3, 2585; 28/11/2000, J.3594-5; 19/6/2001, J.4322; 12/3/2002, J.154-6; 25/11/2003, J.2709-10). (See Supplement)

Where a committee with power to do so resolves to order the attendance of a witness a summons is prepared, signed by the secretary and delivered to the person by a means which satisfies the committee that the person will receive it. In the past, summonses have been personally delivered by a committee’s secretary or faxed to a business or legal adviser’s address and receipt confirmed by telephone. The important element is not the means of delivery but the certainty of receipt.

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