Going to Court? Why you should consider instructing a lawyer to appear on your behalf
Going to Court can be a daunting experience.
Upon arrival at the Courthouse, it is a bustling hive of activity, there are suits a plenty (pun intended) and muted conversations. One only has to scan the Court list to know that, 9 times out of 10, it is going to be a busy day.
Unless you are familiar with the Court process, having a solicitor (or barrister) there to guide you through your hearing can simplify matters and, importantly, make you feel more comfortable than you otherwise would have if you were self-represented. Remember – this is what we do for a living. Quite often, the other party is represented by a lawyer. You may not want to listen to or talk to them, so having your lawyer do this on your behalf can be invaluable.
Where appropriate, we will also utilise the time outside the Courtroom to negotiate with the other side. At the very least, we are usually able to narrow the issues and agree on how your case should be progressed. If matters are progressing particularly well, we will negotiate terms to settle your matter in full and present these to the Judge (usually in the form of Minutes of Consent Orders, signed by the parties).
Lawyers are also well equipped to think on their feet and answer questions when put to them by a Judge. We are your voice in the Courtroom and will answer the curly questions thrown at us. It is our job to explain to the Judge – in clear and succinct terms – what has happened and how your matter should be progressed.
In summary, love us or hate us, obtaining legal representation can make a huge difference – not only in easing your nerves, but also in the outcome of the hearing.
Even if you are represented by a lawyer, here are some simple tips for appearing in Court:-
- Check the Court list the night before your Court appearance to confirm the time of your hearing and Courtroom you are in. The Federal Circuit Court of Australia and Family Court of Australia publish their daily lists on their respective websites. The lists are usually updated in the late afternoon / early evening.
- While the Court list might say your hearing time is say, 9.30am, do not expect to appear before the Judge at 9.30am. There are usually a number of other cases set down at the same time.
- You may be waiting for a long time before your case is called. Make sure you haven’t made other appointments that may clash with your Court appearance.
- Always dress appropriately. Think smart office wear. (As this woman discovered, active wear is not appropriate)
- The Judge is “Your Honour” and the other parties (and their lawyers) are Mr or Ms [surname].
- Stand when speaking and/or when the Judge addresses you. Sit down when you are not speaking or being addressed.
- Don’t talk over or interrupt the other party or the Judge.
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