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Preparing for and attending hearings

15th August 2019

From time to time, you may be required to attend Court or a Tribunal to give evidence in a particular case, whether it be for possession of a property or for recovery of outstanding sums due to you or your landlord/management company clients. This week’s Legal Update is aimed at providing some tips for preparing for and attending such hearings.

Before the hearing

Preparing the Case

  • Respond to requests from your instructed solicitors for information and documents promptly -missing Court deadlines can seriously impact your case;

  • Ensure those instructed know everything about your case, including anything which may weaken your position - if you are unsure whether the information/documents are relevant, just ask.

 Witness statements

  • You need to be 100% confident with any witness statement prepared on your behalf, as signing a witness statement without an honest belief in its truth is a contempt of Court which is punishable by fine or imprisonment. Discuss any concerns or areas of uncertainty with those instructed before you sign the statement;

  • Ensure you have read your witness statement thoroughly before the hearing. You do not need to learn it verbatim but you should be familiar with the content and documents referred to;

  • You should be alive to any weaknesses or issues which may be brought up in your evidence, and consider your responses to any questions which may be raised by your opponent’s Counsel in cross-examination;

  • You should also familiarise yourself with your opponent’s evidence and raise any queries or concerns with those instructed in good time before the hearing. 

At Court

Arrangements for the hearing

  • Ensure you know where and when the hearing is taking place. Plan your route in advance and allow for any delays. The Judge is unlikely to delay the hearing if you are late so it is important to arrive in good time.


  • You should make yourself known to Counsel when you arrive at Court. If you are unsure who Counsel is, you should notify the Court staff when you arrive and they will advise you if your Counsel has already arrived; 

  • Discuss with Counsel any last minute observations or concerns with either your own or your opponent’s evidence;

  • Where your claim includes a sum of money (such as rent arrears or service charges), take an up to date statement of account to Court for Counsel showing the sums outstanding, whether or not they have been demanded; 

  • It is not uncommon for your opponent to wish to discuss matters or negotiate with you at Court. It is wise to leave any such discussions to Counsel, so as not to prejudice your case in any way.  

During the hearing

  • Generally speaking, Counsel instructed by the parties will address the Judge. You do not need to address the Judge unless you are asked to. When required, always address the Judge as “Sir” or “Madam”; 

  • When giving evidence, you will be asked by your Counsel to confirm that your statement is true, and you may be asked some questions by Counsel or the Judge. This is known as evidence in chief. Further questions may be asked by your opponent’s Counsel in cross-examination. Cross-examination is designed to test you - it’s not personal! Address your answers to the Judge and not to Counsel or any other party in the room. This will also help with any nerves when giving evidence; 

  • It is normal to feel nervous when giving evidence. It is important, however, that you do not let nerves take over. Take time to give your answers; think your responses through before speaking. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for time before giving your answer if you need to think;  

  • You should ask for clarification if you are unsure of the question that is being asked of you. Listen carefully to the question before you answer; 

  • If you don’t know the answer, you should say so. It is far better to say you don’t know (and, if appropriate, say why) than to offer up an explanation that you think is right or simply lie. Stick to the facts. Judges know that everyone is human and you may not know the answer to every question;

  • Remember always you are in a Court of law. Dress appropriately. Act courteously and politely at all times, both to the Judge, Court staff and your opponents. Ensure your phones are turned off throughout.

For more information, please contact Faye Didcote at or 01435 897297.


This legal update is provided free of charge for information purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of KDL Law or by KDL Law as a whole. 

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