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‘Be prepared to wait all day’: HMCTS outlines court expectations

By Monidipa Fouzder  >>

(26 February 2020)

Court users have been warned they may have to spend the whole day in court despite being given a specific time for their case, HM Courts & Tribunals Service has said in public guidance to manage expectations.

The guidance, What to expect coming to a court or tribunal, states that individuals must arrive by the time stated in their notice letter. However, HMCTS says: ‘The time given in your letter is when the day’s cases start. Your case might not be first so be prepared to wait. Make any arrangements you need to, for example childcare or taking time off work.’

There is no dress code but court users are told to ‘dress smartly’ if they can and are not allowed to wear anything on their head unless for religious reasons.

Those with a disability should contact the court in advance if they need ramps or accessible toilets, a hearing loop, forms in large print or guidance in audio format.

The court or tribunal should also be contacted in advance with safety concerns.

The guidance also explains what to expect in the hearing. ‘You may see some people bow to the judge or magistrate when they walk in or out of the hearing room. You don’t have to do this, but you can if you want to.’

It advises: ‘When you speak to the judge or magistrate, be polite and speak clearly. There are lots of different names for judges. It’s ok to call them “sir” or “madam”.’

The guidance states that courts have no childcare facilities but that breastfeeding and expressing milk is permitted in all buildings.

(Courtesy: Law Gazette Society)