Have you been called to Court?
Attending court can be a stressful experience, particularly if you’re unsure what you can and can’t bring with you on the day.
Upon arrival at court, you will usually be met by security staff and asked to go through a metal detector or undertake a security search. Your bags and belongings will also be searched. Therefore, it is important to know what you cannot take into a court building.
What to take:
- A bottle of water. Whilst this is sometimes provided in courtrooms, it is always a good idea to bring your own.
- Take a friend or family member with you who you can trust. Whilst having someone to support you is important, please remember that you shouldn’t be distracted on the day and some courts have limits on the amount of people who can enter the building or courtroom so only 1 or 2 supporters is recommended.
- Some light refreshments, particularly if your hearing is listed for around the lunch period (1-2pm) or scheduled to last more than a few hours. Whilst you cannot eat or bring food into the courtroom itself, cases can often be delayed or adjourned, meaning that there may be some waiting time. In some circumstances, the judge may bail you to the court building whilst there is a break in proceedings and, in this case, you will not be allowed to leave to collect refreshments.
- A book or magazine to occupy you whilst waiting.
- Any information that may be helpful to your barrister. For example, the contact details of someone you may want to call as a witness or information regarding a new employment.
- Any essential medication. Please note that security will check medication so ensure it has the pharmacist label with your name and date of issue clearly printed.
- A notepad and pen/pencil. It is likely you will have an opportunity to speak with your barrister before and after the court hearing and you may find it helpful to write down any important advice, dates or next steps. Additionally, you can take notes whilst in court so you these items are useful.
Whilst you can take your phone with you, and this is often a good idea in case you are delayed and need to contact the court or your legal team, you must turn your phone off when you enter the courtroom.
It is also recommended that you don’t wait outside court with headphones in as you may miss an important announcement about your case or an opportunity to speak with your barrister.
It is crucial you are comfortable at court so it’s best not to try and take all your belongings with you but a select few may make the day a little less stressful.
What not to take:
- Any liquids, including perfumes, oils, lighter refills, cleaning products etc., except for sealed non-alcoholic drinks. The security staff may ask you to drink some of your drink if it is opened or in a bottle, flask, or cup to prove its not harmful.
- Any sharp objects
- Glass, including glass bottles
- Metal cutlery
- Tools, such as screwdrivers, hammers, and nails.
- Full-length umbrellas
If you attempt to take any of these items into the court building, they will be confiscated. You can, however, usually collect these from security when you leave.
Depending on the type of hearing, developments in your case and the court’s timetable for the day, the amount of time you may have to spend at court will vary. Taking some or all of the following things may therefore help make your experience a little more manageable.