Last minute tips for going to court or tribunal

We’ve written this for you if you are going to court or tribunal today or sitting in the waiting room. It gives you tips for what to do while you are waiting, and advice on how to speak and act when you are in the room.
Photo of David in court

If you’ve got a little more time before your hearing you might want to watch our film as it gives you a bit more help on how to prepare before the day.  

If you are in court today

  • Remember to sign in, so that the court knows you are there. 
  • If you have any questions, the usher or court clerk is a good person to ask.
  • While you are waiting to go in, is a good time to see if you can come to an agreement with the people on the other side in your case. Lots of people feel very uncomfortable about talking to their opponent in the case at this stage, but if you can get an agreement you are happy with now it is a good idea. 
  • If you haven’t already prepared a list of the points you want to make, do it now. 
  • When it’s time to go in, remember to switch off your phone. 

When you go in to the courtroom

  • Don’t worry about where to sit. Sometimes a court clerk or usher will take you into the court and show you where. If they don’t, just go and sit at the front. If you are in court for a family matter, your ex will sit on the other side of the room.  
  • Don’t worry about what to call the judge - sir or madam is fine. The most important thing is to always be polite. If they want you to call them something particular, they’ll tell you. 
  • When it is your turn to speak or when the judge comes in, stand up - the judge will let you know if you don’t need to.
  • Stay polite and as calm as possible. 
  • Don’t try to use legal language - just speak clearly and slowly. 
  • When there is something you disagree with, don’t interrupt. Just show the judge that you have something to say by raising your hand, and wait. 
  • When you speak, speak to the judge rather than the person on the other side in the case.  
Don’t interrupt
Don’t get angry
Don’t be argumentative
Don’t swear 
Don't be aggressive

When the judge asks you questions:

  • listen carefully. 
  • if you don’t understand, say so.
  • try to give brief, to-the-point answers. 
March 2016

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