Legal Guides

What to Expect in Court

The thought of going to court can be daunting for most of us. One of the first things that springs to most minds is Judge Judy and her intimidating demeanour, never mind the lawyers from 'Suits' and Ally McBeal. Court attendance is never as bad as you think it will be. Few realise that whilst a large number of cases are listed on a daily basis only a small percentage of personal injury claims ever go into court for a full hearing. If your case proceeds to court, your solicitor will do their utmost to reduce any anxiety you may have. You will be guided through the experience to a conclusion.

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Who Will I Meet on the Hearing Day of the Case?

During your court case, your solicitor will accompany you at every stage of the process. In the District Courts and Circuit Courts, you will be represented by a barrister. Your barrister will be part of your team and be familiar with your case. If your case is in the High Court you may have two barristers on your team as senior and junior counsel.

A pre-trial consultation is normally arranged with your full legal team on the morning of the hearing. During the course of the pre-trial consultation, the barrister may play “devil’s advocate”. This means that they prepare you by cross-examining you in a style and manner that the defendant’s barrister might do at the hearing of your case. Expert witnesses such as Engineers and Doctors may attend these meetings.

The Hearing

It is important to dress appropriately for your court appearance, think of your Sunday best.

In the District and Circuit Courts, a case is normally reached the day it is listed. In the High Court, however, if your case is not assigned to a judge on the first day it is listed, you may need to come back the following day. There can be delays in court lists, so your case may not start immediately. The delays are often used as an opportunity to discuss possible settlement of cases.

If your case does commence, you will be called to give evidence first. You will be brought through the facts of your case by your own barrister. Following on from this, the defendant’s barrister may ask you questions based on the evidence that you have given. This is known as cross-examination.

Upon conclusion of your evidence, evidence of any other witnesses is taken in the same way. Once all witnesses called to support your case have been heard the defendants will have an opportunity to call their own witnesses.

After all evidence is heard, the judge may give a decision on the case there and then. However, he may adjourn the case to consider the matter in further detail and deliver judgement at that stage.