What is a Bankruptcy Subpoena?

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  • Written By: M. Lupica
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 23 January 2020
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A bankruptcy subpoena is a document issued by a bankruptcy court ordering potential witnesses to appear or certain evidence to be produced by the recipient for the purpose of conducting bankruptcy proceedings. Two types of subpoenas exist: subpoena ad testificandum and subpoena duces tecum. The first orders that a person appear before a court and testify; the second orders that physical evidence to be brought before the court or to allow officers of the court to inspect a location in control of the recipient. The recipient must follow the order described on the subpoena or they will face the possibility of being held in contempt of court.

A bankruptcy is an official, legal declaration that an individual or organization cannot pay its debts. There are six different types, or chapters, of bankruptcy, each with its own unique aspects and purposes. In essence, however, bankruptcy is intended to resolve debt under the oversight of a court of law.


A bankruptcy subpoena will identify the district in which the bankruptcy case was filed as well as the party who is the subject of the matter. In addition, it will list the exact address and time at which the recipient is ordered to appear to deliver testimony. Sometimes, the bankruptcy subpoena will not order the recipient to go to court. Instead, they may be ordered to give a deposition, which is recorded testimony given out of court, though it is given the same legal weight as testimony taken in court.

If the bankruptcy subpoena is for the production of documents or other evidence, then it will identify the specific items the court requires the recipient to produce. In the event the subpoena demands permission for inspection of a location, then it will identify the location as well as the date and time that inspection shall be conducted. Most often, a bankruptcy subpoena will command the recipient to produce receipts, bank statements, or other records of purchase.

Bankruptcy subpoenas also contain a statement of proof of service on the form, which is to be filled out by the process server. This statement is used to show that the document was effectively delivered to the intended recipient and signifies their knowledge of the order for them to act in accordance with the subpoena. In the event that they do not follow the instructions, the proof of service section is definitive evidence that they deliberately ignored the order.


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