Frequently Asked Questions
Coming To A Court or Tribunal To Give Evidence As A Victim or Witness
The purpose of this page is to provide an overview of the facilities and support available to you from the Courts and Tribunals Service.
Before the hearing:
In criminal cases:
If you are a victim of crime or a witness for the prosecution, the police will tell you when you have to go to court.
If you are a witness for the defence, the defence lawyer or defendant will tell you when you have to go to court.
In other cases:
The person on whose behalf you are giving evidence, their lawyer, or the court/tribunal will tell you when you have to go to court/tribunal.
Before the hearing, the Courts and Tribunal Service may be able to provide:
Witness service — The witness service is able to provide support to you before and during the hearing. Somebody from the witness service can accompany you to court if needed.
Pre-court visit — To show you around the court so you know what to expect on the day, explain the court process and who’s who in the courtroom.
Test call — If you are giving evidence by a video link from a place other than the court building, we will ask you to take part in a test call. This is to make sure you can connect with the court equipment and understand the procedure when giving evidence in this way.
On the day of the hearing:
We know that coming to a court or tribunal can feel overwhelming or frightening.
In criminal cases:
If you are a victim of crime or a witness for the prosecution, you should let the police know about your needs prior to the trial date, so there is time to make any arrangements.
If you are a witness for the defence, you should let the defence lawyer or the defendant know about your needs, so there is time to make any arrangements.
In other cases:
Please inform the person on whose behalf you are giving evidence, their lawyer, or the court/tribunal.
Arriving — We can look at arranging a specific time and entrance for your arrival, as well as a seat in a different part of the building from others.
Adjustments — If you have a disability, need specific assistance or have specific needs, we can explore what we can do to support this: e.g. if you need to take medication at a particular time, have a hearing or visual impairment, or need documents in large-print format.
Translator — If you do not understand or do not speak English we can get someone to translate or interpret. Even if you do speak good conversational English, an interpreter may help you fully understand the process and any technical language
Witness service — The witness service is able to provide support to you during the hearing, and wait with you before you give your evidence.
Support — We can reserve a seat in the public gallery for someone else to attend to support you, such as a friend or family member.
Special measures — We may be able to take extra steps to protect you in certain circumstances (including but not limited to victims of sexual offences). These steps are called ‘special measures’ and include:
- Screens, so the defendant cannot see you
- Giving evidence by video link from another room in the court building. The defendant will be able to see you but you will not be able to see them.
When you give your evidence, you will be asked to swear an oath (on a holy book) or make a legally-binding promise (known as an affirmation) that your evidence will be true. Before you enter the courtroom you will be asked whether you wish to swear or affirm, and if you chose to swear an oath which holy book you wish to use.
Before you go into the courtroom, please turn off your mobile phone.
The court is located on the ground floor in the Town Hall in central Stanley.
Toilet — The toilet is located on the ground floor, beside the main entrance. If you are waiting in a separate waiting area you may have access to the staff toilet.
Refreshments — The public water-refilling station is located in the office space. Please ask a member of staff for assistance. You can also bring your own water with you. Please do not take hot drinks into the courtroom.
Internet — There is a Sure Hotspot and a Sure Broadband connection available in the building. The office staff do not sell hotspot connection cards.
Hearing loop — There is no hearing loop in the court. We may be able to make other adjustments to assist you. Please speak to a member of court staff.
Childcare — There are no childcare facilities, and staff cannot look after your children while you are in the courtroom.
After giving evidence:
You will be told that you can either leave the building or stay to watch the rest of the hearing from the public gallery at the back of the courtroom.
If you are giving your evidence over the video link there may be an option for you to continue watching over this link.
You may be able to ask for expenses when you go to court as a witness.