The 12 Commandments of Court Manners; What to expect at a hearing/interim hearing/mention
Court can be daunting. There are so many do’s and don’ts … here are a few for you to consider and keep in mind:
- “Dress to Impress.” While you don’t have to wear a suit, you do need to dress respectfully. Consult your lawyer regarding what they recommend, in their opinion, as suitable attire regarding what you should wear
- Bow to the judge when you walk into the court room and as you depart
- Sit behind your lawyer on the bench seat available. Typically, the applicant sits to the left of the judge and the respondent to the right of the judge
- When swearing in or affirming, look the judge in the face the entire time. Do not look away or let your gaze wander
- Face of steel, poker face. If you are pulling faces or rolling your eyes, the judge will pull you up
- Refer to the judge as “Your Honour”
- Keep your answers to short “yes” or “no”
- Write notes and pass to your lawyer, not barrister. Lawyer will vet the note and forward as necessary to the barrister
- If the other side examining you gets long winded, ask for the specific question again.
- If the barrister isn’t getting to the point, the judge will ask the question.
- If your barrister is about to stand up, shut up. They won’t want you to keep talking
- The lawyer and barrister may “snub” you at first because during the hearing they are not supposed to counsel/coach you. In a 3-day hearing, the lawyer and barrister should start relaxing a little on / by the final day. If you are the applicant, you will be on the stand and cross-examined prior to the respondent.
- Sometimes the expert witnesses go before the applicant and respondent. It depends on the judge and what order the judge prefers
- Do not use your phone or computer in court. If you need to have notes while court is in session, have a hard-copy or printed version