Dear Mr Chadwick,
Thank you for the documents. They are quite long so I will write here the important information.
The invitation to depose as witness was made by the regional (county) court in Saalfelden, Austria, in the case 2 U 69/16a - 1. In any communication with the court you need to quote this case number. The case is a criminal case against Mr. Joshua Thomson, born on 26 August 1995, regarding the crime in article 83 of the Austrian Criminal Code, which states:
"(1) Anyone who injures another person in the body or injures his or her health shall be punished with imprisonment for up to one year or with a fine of up to 720 days.
(2) It is also necessary to punish those who are ill-treated or otherwise injured or injured in the body."
("days of fine" is a means of reckoning the fine as equivalent to a imprisonment day)
It does not say who the claimant is.
You are invited to the main proceedings (i.e. the criminal inquiry has already ended), in Saalfeld, Ground Floor, Hall 007, on 7 December 2016, at 09:00 (estimated end 10:30). The judge is Magister Gregor Togel.
You are legally obliged to attend. You cannot respond in writing, and you must go even if you are exempted from actually deposing. For example, you are exempted if you are a dependent of the defendant, you are a protection-worthy victim, you would be testifying against yourself, or you are under a professional law-recognized obligation of confidentiality (e.g. lawyers and priests). You may bring with you a trustworthy person, to stay with you during the hearing, as long as they are not related in any way to the trial. This person is not entitled to costs. If you believe you have any relevant papers, bring them with you to the court.
Absence: If you must be absent for a good reason, then you must tell the court immediately. A job is not a good reason. Your employer must recognize the invitation and give you free time. If you do have a good ground, a new term will be provided. [my note: you can write in English to the court, it's their job to understand your writing]
If you absent without a reason, the court must:
- invite you again;
- also give you a fine of up to EUR 1.000 (one thousand); and
- oblige you to pay the costs arising out of the delay (these include lawyer costs of both parties, so they can be big).
[my note: while there is no means for the court to make you go directly, i.e. they cannot request the assistance of the UK authorities to take you to Austria, the monetary part of the order for a fine and costs can be easily enforced in the UK, including through a stop on your account, therefore please do not ignore it!]
Entitlement to costs: you are entitled to travel and stay costs, and to damages for time lost.
Travel costs are reimbursed to the equivalent of a mass transit ticket 2nd class, only from the place where the invitation was sent to (i.e. Lytham St Annes), unless you inform the court in advance that you are actually in another place. As overstay costs you are entitled to food and hotel costs, according to the following limits: breakfast EUR 4,-; lunch and dinner each EUR 8,50; hotel / night up to EUR 37,20 with receipt). As a person coming from abroad, if you can prove higher costs, and that these are threatening to your life means (i.e. if the extra costs are very high for you), then you are entitled to up to three times the food costs and up to six times the hotel costs, calculated on the basis of the costs above. You are also in any case entitled to the extra costs caused by international travel (plane, train etc.).
For lost time, calculated as the time being out of your home and work, to the earliest return time, you are entitled to EUR 14,20 / hour, or if you can prove it:
- the hourly / daily wage you normally earn; or
- the normal income as an independent worker / professional
- the replacement cost for a person who gives care to another one (i.e. if you give care to someone, the costs to replace you with someone else).
If because of your age you need a person to accompany you they must claim separately but are entitled to the same costs.
You should present the documents for costs immediately after the end of the hearing, with the invitation and the last page. For independent persons, you may present a declaration regarding lost income. At the latest you must present them within four weeks after the hearing, you lose the right to costs. You must at least claim it in advance, and ask for permission to present the paperwork later, if you cannot obtain it in time.
Damages: If you are otherwise damaged, you may request the President of the Court to allow damages to be paid, also within four weeks after the hearing, with proof of their value.
You may not go to court with weapons, and there is some time to reckon for security controls at the court.
[my note: I left out information for crime victims in Austria, and for Austrian public servants]
I left out the form as well, because you can fill it there with the help of a translator (they must provide one if you don't speak German), since you only need it if you go.
Bot***** *****ne: They cannot force you to go, but the court may sanction you with money if you don't. The money order may be easily recognized in the UK, via the Austrian state, and you may find yourself with the money taken out of the bank. So I would treat this very seriously.
Furthermore, if this invitation does not work, the court / lawyers may ask for another means of hearing you, such as an electronic hearing via a UK court. In this case, the powers of the UK court apply, including the power to order you being in contempt if you don't go to the UK court, which means the punishment can take the form of a prison sentence of up to 3 months duration and/or a fine of up to £2500 (this is above the fine and costs for the missed days in Austria).
All in all, I would personally recommend you to treat this matter very gravely, because in criminal trials witnesses are not let go of so easily as in civil cases (where there are options to write in the answers or even walk away).
I hope my answer was useful. I am sorry it might not be very encouraging but I think it is better for you to know what you are exposed to.
Looking forward to your rating, which is essential to my activity.
Dr I L Vlad