A client of ours recently informed us they could not find helpful information online about the simple practicalities of attending the County Court and what exactly you need to do when you arrive. We hope this may help if you are attending the County Courts in England and Wales.
Before the day of the hearing check the time, date and location of your hearing. The Court will usually send to you a Notice of Hearing or the details may appear within an earlier order which set out the things you need to do to prepare your care.
You should aim to arrive at least half an hour before the start of the hearing, be aware that for family hearings the Court usually orders you to attend an hour before the hearing time.
The Court have a list of hearings which is displayed every day for the hearings on that day. It will tell you which court room your case is to be heard in and it should be prominently displayed in the entrance.
Be aware that you will have to go through security. Though similar to airport security, Court security is a little less intrusive. There will be a detector and they will check your bag for any dangerous objects. Sprays and aerosols are included as dangerous items so it is best not to take them with you.
At most Courts you will need to ‘book in’ with the usher. The usher will take your name and let you know if anyone else involved in your case is in attendance. Some ushers will have a desk so you should book in there. Some Judges have a clerk and some ushers do not have a desk, in which case wait near the Courtroom so they know you are waiting. Some of the very small courts do not have an usher and instead have a tannoy system to announce your case. Check with the Court Office at Court if you are in any doubt. Even if you are represented check the usher knows you are there, though usually your Solicitor would book you in and tell you where to meet them.
Most often you will wait in the waiting room, if your Solicitor was lucky they may have a conference room where you can talk privately with them about your case before the hearing. If you feel intimidated or have special requirements you should contact the Court before the hearing as they can arrange for you to wait somewhere safe before the hearing commences.
Unfortunately, Courts often list several cases at the same time, so your case may not start at the time it is listed. Other delays occur because an urgent case needed to be heard before yours or earlier cases overran. However, do not be late for your hearing and stay in the Court building, if you are not there when it is called on your case may be heard without you.
Different Courts have different facilities and practices. They differ widely from a very small one Courtroom Court buildings to large buildings containing dozens of Courtrooms. You can check your Court’s details at: https://www.gov.uk/find-court-tribunal.
Where we are acting for you we will give you detailed information about the day and make the arrangements to try and ensure a stressful day is made less difficult for you.