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Top 10 tips for attending court

Courtrooms are formal places and therefore it is important to have a good understanding of how to behave and what to wear when attending a courtroom. There are a number of things to consider and the following article will provide you with some tips.

1.What should you wear?

Although there are no official hard rules in relation to what you should wear to go to court, it is important to remember that it is a formal place and therefore dressing appropriately is essential.  And although you will not be asked to leave if you are not in a suit, you should ensure that your appearance is neat and tidy. Even if you have a legal representation, it is vial to create a good impression.

Courtroom

2.What should you do when the judge or sheriff comes in to the courtroom?

When the judge or sheriff enters the room, it means that the court hearing has begun. Normally, court staff will announce either the judge or the sheriff and shout ‘all rise’. At this stage, in order to show respect, everyone in the room should stand up and wait until the judge or the sheriff take a seat before sitting down again.

You will also need to stand up when the judge or sheriff will be leaving the courtroom after the case has been heard.

3.How long should you expect to be at court for?

It is important to be aware of the fact that courts are very busy places and therefore it is difficult to specify the exact timings of courts proceedings. Each case is different and therefore timings vary on the stage of your court proceedings as well as other factors.

If you have a solicitor representing you, they will be in a position to provide you with a rough estimate of how long court hearing will take. If on the other hand, you are representing yourself, it might be a good idea to approach one of the court officials to enquire about the timings and how long everything is likely to take.

4.What will happen during the questioning?

If you are called to the stand to give evidence, it is important to remember to stay calm and take your time. The purpose of questioning is to ingather as much information as possible about the case and therefore both sides will have an opportunity to ask questions. Although giving evidence can be stressful, it is best to concentrate on giving clear and honest answers to the questions asked.

It is best not to overthink the questions you are being asked by a solicitor or a judge, just answer the question by sticking to the facts. If you have trouble within understanding something, you should ask politely for a repetition of the question.

Remember that if you do not recall certain details or aspects of case, specify that to the judge or sheriff.

5.Where should you sit?

Where you will need to sit, will depend on what your case is about and whether you have legal representation.

If you have a solicitor acting on your behalf in a civil proceeding, you will normally be told by your solicitor to sit in the public seating area.

If on the other hand, you are representing yourself, it might be useful to ask the court staff where is best to sit for you. They will provide you with instructions as to where you should sit until your case is called. Following this, you will need to stand in front of the judge or sheriff to present your arguments in the case.

6.Can you speak to the judge or sheriff directly?

If you have legal representation, it is normally your solicitor who will speak on your behalf and therefore it is essential to remember that at no point should you interrupt. You might be able to address the judge or sheriff if they wish to question you. In such circumstances, it is crucial to note that when speak to the judge or sheriff you should call them either ‘My Lord’ or ‘My Lady’.

If you are representing yourself, you should be aware of the fact that you will need to speak directly to the judge or sheriff and only when they have turned to you to ask you to address the court

7.What should you call the judge or sheriff?

During some court proceedings, you might find yourself in a situation where you will need to address the judge or sheriff directly. In such situation, it is crucial to note that when speak to the judge or sheriff you should call them either ‘My Lord’ or ‘My Lady’.

Judge

8.What if you will have questions during the hearing?

If you have legal representation, your solicitor will speak on your behalf during the hearing and therefore any questions you may have should be asked before or after the hearing.

If you are representing yourself, it is important to note that normally the sheriff or the judge will ask you questions, but you should never direct any questions at the sheriff. If you find yourself in a situation where you do not have a very good understanding of what is being asked of you, you should ask the sheriff clerk to clarify the matters for you, either before or after the case has been heard.

9.What happens if you don’t understand something?

It is very common for individuals to have a difficulty with understanding the legal wording and phrases when going through a court process. If you find yourself in a situation where you do not seem to understand certain points or aspects, you can ask your solicitor or a court official to explain those to you after the case has been heard or at the end.  

10. How will you know what has been decided?

If you have legal representation, your solicitor will explain the outcome of the court proceedings to you once they finished in court. They will either tell you at court if you are at the hearing, via a telephone call or write a letter to you to confirm what has happened.

If on the other hand, you are representing yourself and you do not understand what has been decided when the decision was read out, there is not reason to worry too much. At the end, you can approach the sheriff and ask them to clarify what the decision was. 

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