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Crown Court and County Court in Oxford

What Happens At Court?

Preparing for court

To increase the chances of a successful claim, we highly advise that you take some time to prepare for court.

The night before the trial, you should read through your witness statement and medical report to refresh your memory with the key documents that form the essential part of your case.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with where the court is located. Plan your travel route and if you are driving, ensure you know where to park as most courts do not have public parking facilities nearby.

Frequently asked questions

  1. What should I do when I arrive at court?
  2. Why am I represented in court by a barrister and not my solicitor?
  3. What should I do when I meet my barrister?
  4. Why is there a delay to the hearing of my case?
  5. Where do I sit in the courtroom?
  6. What happens at my hearing?
  7. What happens if the barrister or judge asks me a question that I am unable to answer?

1. What should I do when I arrive at court?

When you arrive at court, you will pass through a security check from the security guards. Explain that you are there for a ‘civil trial’ and they will direct you to the correct areas of the court. There will be court ushers that you need to report to to confirm your arrival.

If your representative, your barrister has arrived before you, the court usher will direct you to the barrister. If you are the first to arrive then take a seat and the court usher will direct the barrister to you when they check in.

2. Why am I represented in court by a barrister and not my solicitor?

A barrister spends a lot of their time in court and is more experienced at dealing with the court side of the process than solicitors. It is also more cost effective to send a barrister to court as they are paid per piece of work compared to your solicitor who bills by the hour.

We will have arranged for a barrister to represent you at the hearing and can reassure you that they will be fully familiar with the issues of your claim.

3. What should I do when I meet my barrister?

Your barrister should arrive at least 30 minutes early so you may meet up with them and have a pre-trial conference. This will give you an opportunity to clarify any aspect of your evidence and any last minute questions you may have.

As for claiming expenses for travel costs and loss of earnings in attending trial, please ensure you bring a copy of your receipts, letters and other proof. You will need to pass these onto your barrister who can then ask the judge at the end of your case when you have been successful to include these losses in your claim. If you do not make your barrister aware of these losses, then you will lose out as they cannot be claimed once the trial has been concluded.

4. Why is there a delay to the hearing of my case?

Courts often list more than one case to be heard at the same time. This can lead to a delay in the start time, and in rare cases can be adjourned. Adjourned means the case has been postponed to a new date, possibly because the court has run out of time. It is important to realise that whilst the court has the power to vary the time and the date, they will not accept your lateness or the failure to attend.

5. Where do I sit in the courtroom?

The judge will sit at the front, and you will generally sit on the left hand side behind your barrister, who will face the judge. The other party will sit on the right behind their barrister.

6. What happens at my hearing?

Once you are called into the courtroom where the matter will be heard, the hearing has started and you must be respectful at all times.

As the party bringing the claim, you are required to give evidence first. You will be called to a witness box and begin by swearing an oath to tell the truth.

There will be a lever arch bundle of documents in front of you, and each barrister and the judge will have a copy of this bundle. This bundle was prepared by us for the court and it contains all of the evidence from you and the other party. Using the page numbers, you will be asked by your barrister to turn to the page where your witness statement is and asked to confirm to the court that it is indeed your statement and your signature. This process is called Evidence in Chief.

You will be cross examined by the other party’s barrister. They will ask you a lot of very detailed questions to challenge the evidence you have given. Their aim will be to try and draw you into contradicting the evidence that you have given in your statement and medical report. This is why it is vitally important that you have refreshed your memory the night before and came to court prepared.

Please be aware that the judge may also ask you questions directly.

When the questions have ceased and your evidence is completed, you will step down. If you have any witnesses present for the hearing, they will go through the same process.

It will then be the defendant’s turn to be cross examined by our barrister along with any witnesses they have brought along.

Once all of the evidence is heard, the judge will make their decision and hand down what they will refer to as judgment. If you are successful the judge will make an award of compensation, including any losses and expenses, and confirm when the amount should be paid to you.

The hearing will then be concluded. A court hearing generally takes the whole day and concludes at around 16:00, although it can still run over to reach a conclusion.

7. What happens if the barrister or judge asks me a question that I am unable to answer?

Take your time and do not rush. It is important that you try and remain calm throughout. Answering in a controlled and calm manner will relax your nerves and can help you think more clearly.

If you did not hear the question correctly, then ask for it to be repeated.

If you do not understand the question or you are unsure of the question being asked, then don’t try and guess at what the point of the question is. If you do not know the answer, then be honest, keep calm and tell the truth.


This page was last updated on 15th August 2016. This is a disclaimer to say that although we do make an effort to ensure that information contained on this website is accurate and up-to-date, we would like to remind you that this information is subject to change without notice and that we can accept no liability for the accuracy and/or inaccuracy of the information contained on this website at any given time.

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