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Inside the courtroom: what happens at a court hearing?

A Court hearing is a process where a person’s case is presented for hearing before a Judge. The thought of going to court can be stressful, especially if it’s your first time. It’s totally normal to feel this way. However, only a small amount of personal injury claims ever make it to court.

If you do find that your case has reached court hearing stage, you can rest assured that you will be guided through the entire process by your solicitor.

In the courtroom

If you’ve never been in a court before, it can be daunting, and you may be unsure of how you are expected to behave. There is no expectation on you to know all the courtroom formalities. You will be given direction throughout your time at court, for example, you will be told where to sit when you enter the courtroom.

Below is a list of things you should and should not do while at court:
You should:

  • Dress appropriately for a formal environment, as if you were attending a job interview.
  • Stand when the judge enters and leaves the courtroom.
  • Address the judge as ‘Judge’.
  • Switch your mobile phone off or put it on silent.

You should not:

  • Raise your voice whilst in the courtroom.
  • Use a mobile device.
  • Eat food or drink in the courtroom.
  • Take photos or videos during your hearing.
  • Interrupt others.

Who speaks for me in court?

Your solicitor will prepare your case for the hearing. But they will instruct a barrister to be your Counsel and the barrister will represent you and speak for you in court. Your solicitor will send the barrister a brief with all the important information and relevant documents that relate to your case.

Learn more about Who is who in Court.

The Hearing

What happens at the court hearing will vary depending on the type or complexity of your case.

Before the court hearing takes place, your solicitor will work with you in gathering all the relevant evidence and information to support your case. They will make sure you are prepared and will talk you through how the hearing is likely to proceed.

At the court hearing, each party will have the opportunity to present their arguments and evidence to support their case. This may involve the use of photographic evidence, testimonies from witnesses, medical experts, and any other relevant individuals.
Usually the plaintiff’s argument goes first, followed by the defendant.

Following the presentation of evidence, your barrister, and the barrister of the other party, will both take turns in making their legal arguments to the judge. They will interpret all evidence that has been given.

You may be questioned by the other party’s barrister based on the evidence you have provided. This is called a cross-examination.

Once all evidence is presented and arguments have been heard, the judge will deliberate to reach a decision. The judge may adjourn the case in order to consider the matter in further detail. They will determine whether the defendant is liable for the plaintiff’s injuries or not. If liability is established, the court will then consider the extent of damages suffered by the plaintiff and will award compensation accordingly.

Depending on the outcome of the court hearing, there may be post-hearing proceedings such as appeals or negotiations for settlement agreements. This might also result in the case proceeding to a higher court for review.

Related article: What to expect in court