Appearing in court

If you have to appear in court for any reason, you'll want to be prepared. Follow the steps below to get to grips with the basics.

If you need further help with your court appearance, post on our facebook group for support.

1 Prepare before the day

Make notes in advance. This doesn't mean prepare a script, but do write down key issues you wish to raise, and a few notes surrounding them.

You will seem more confident, and thus command more respect, if you appear to be able to make your own case without having to prepare it in advance. Feel free to take in an A4 wallet with a few pieces of paper, though taking more than 3 or 4 sheets may be attributed to lack of confidence. A good tip is to write a page or two of notes, and then increase the font size so that it becomes three or four pages and can be read more easily when placed on a desk in front of you. Printing double-sided allows you to fit more notes onto one piece of paper.

2 Arrive early

Arrive at least half an hour before your case, ideally an hour early. This will remove any stress caused by having to rush, and allow you some time to get to where you need to be and get a drink etc if you need to.

3 Look smart

Dress to impress! Wear a full suit and tie if possible. Whether you are appearing on criminal charges or to settle a civil matter, treat it as though you were appearing before the Supreme Court. Look smart, and the Judge is more likely to show you respect and listen to what you have to say.

4 During the hearing

Make notes . Take a pen and a notepad with you. Use this to make a notes while you are there to help you keep your train of thought.

5 When addressing the court

Speak Clearly - A measured, steady pace and a clear voice are key. Don't worry about sounding confident, or sounding like a solicitor. Just ensure that everyone in the room can hear you, and can understand you. Don't talk to fast, as words may get misheard or go unheard. Likewise, don't talk to slow, as this may come across as patronizing.

Be Respectful - Whether civil or criminal, conducting yourself appropriately can go a long way towards winning a Judge over. Stand when the Judge enters the court. Sit down when it is indicated that you may do so. Stand when the Judge is talking to you, and when you are responding to them. Try not to rustle your papers or make noise while the opposition is speaking and, above all, don't interrupt anyone. If you think of something that you'd like to say, make a note of it. Your time will come, and you'll get to speak, but interrupting is a sure way to get the Judges back up.