BEFORE THE CASE
• If at all possible, attend a few short Court cases so that you have an idea what to expect. Perhaps, you could go to the court the day before and see a case going on before a Judge.
• Ask your solicitor which Court-room your case is on and where/when will you meet them.
• If you are a victim giving evidence, contact the Victim Support Group.
• Check that your witnesses are going to turn up – no one else can give their evidence for them.
ON THE DAY
• Make sure you are free for the whole day – your case might not come up for hours, or, even until the next day.
• Arrive in plenty of time to find your solicitor and sort out last-minute details.
• Dress neatly and soberly – it shows respect for the gravity of a Court appearance and may increase your credibility.
• Do not bring small children, unless the case involves them.
• Bring a family member or friend for moral support and to run messages for you so you do not have to leave the Court room.
WHEN GIVING EVIDENCE• Address the judge simply as ‘judge’, and be respectful and polite at all times – never chew gum, eat or drink in Court.
• Try not to be overawed or afraid – the judge is there to ensure fair play and see that justice is done.
• Do not argue with the judge, but if you feel something should be said, say it politely, while you have the chance.
• Do not try to give what you feel is the ‘right’ or ‘required’ answer – just tell the truth as you remember it.
• Take your time – the judge will probably be taking notes and, anyway, you might make mistakes if you rush.
• If you do not understand the question or you cannot remember, or are not certain about a fact, say so – this is very important.
• Try not to get flustered by a cross-examination that seems like a personal attack: remember that it is the opposing barrister’s job to show your evidence is unreliable, confused, malicious, untruthful, and so on.
• Remember, the law of defamation does not apply to sworn evidence, so you are immune from the threat of libel action.
• Check with your solicitor that you have understood the outcome of the case; you may be able to get a copy of the judgement.
• If things do not go according to plan, you can usually appeal.
– legal advice to injury claimants by Holland Condon Solicitors Kilkenny