Eviction case in Court? Part 1- What you MUST do when you arrive at Court
Attending court is a stressful experience for anyone.
But for those facing possession proceedings, the reality of possibly losing your home is daunting.
We want to help you by giving you a guide of what to expect when you turn up at court. Sometimes knowing what to do and what to expect will reduce worrying.
Your landlord might be a:
- Local Authority (council),
- Housing association, or
- Private Landlord.
If your Landlord has given you notice requesting you to leave and you haven't been able to you're likely to be taken to court.
It's hard to know what to expect on the day of your first hearing. This causes many tenants not to attend at all.
If you take one thing away from this article; you MUST attend any court hearing which is about possession of your home.
Even if you don't think being there will make a difference, you may be entitled to free legal representation at court. There could be things your adviser can tell you about your case which you didn't know.
So, what can you expect when you arrive at court?
- Which Court?
Firstly it is important to know that there are two separate court systems in the UK.
- the criminal courts
- civil courts
Nearly all possession cases are civil cases so are dealt with in the Civil Court system.*
The Magistrates and Crown Court deal with criminal matters which will usually start with involvement from the Police. They deal with things such as theft or assault and are usually much more formal than the civil courts.
If you're being evicted from your home, your case will almost certainly start in the County Court.
The County Court is where most civil cases will begin and the address should be clearly stated on the official court paperwork.
Depending on where your local court is, the County Court may share the same building as other courts so make sure you follow signs for the County Court or 'District Judge appointments'.
***Aim to arrive between 30-40 minutes before your hearing is due to start.
This will give you a chance to discuss your case before the hearing begins.
- Security Checks
When you arrive at court, you'll have to go through a security check. This is similar to the checks carried out at airports.Usually, it involves a visual inspection of any bags you bring with you and a step through a security arch.You won't be allowed to take anything dangerous into court with you (such as knives or tools).
Some liquids/sprays such as perfume or deodorant may also be taken off you. You can recollect them when you leave.
- You must get signed in
Once you are through security, you must make your way to the correct part of the building and sign in with a court usher. There may be a list of cases on the wall which are separated by courtroom.
- If you can see the court number you are in then follow the signs to that courtroom.
- If you're not sure, ask a member of court or security staff who will direct you to the right place.
When you arrive there may be an usher's desk where you will have to sign in with the court usher.
Court ushers usually wear black gowns and are often away from their desk showing parties to court or carrying out other tasks.
As soon as you see an usher, tell them your name so they can cross you off their list.
If you don't tell the usher you have arrived, the case may go ahead without you.
- Get free advice
Depending on the day of your hearing and type of case you have, you may be entitled to see a FREE housing adviser under the Housing Possession Court Desk Scheme.This scheme is funded by the Legal Aid Agency and is available to anybody facing possession proceedings of their home regardless of their financial circumstances.Whilst there are some restrictions on the types of hearings the advisers can help you with, you should speak to the duty adviser if you get the chance.
At most courts, the usher will ask if you want to see the Duty Housing Adviser or you may see a sign or poster directing you to where you can speak to the adviser.
The adviser may be a specialist solicitor or legal representative or might be a housing adviser from Shelter or a local law centre.
You can discuss your case freely with your adviser who will give you advice on what your options are. The adviser may be able to speak to whoever is representing your Landlord or mortgage lender. Often an agreement can be reached with the other side before the case begins.
Swain & Co Solicitors currently provide Court Desk services at the Portsmouth, Southampton, Horsham, Chichester and Worthing County Courts on days when possession cases are listed. Please note that Chichester and Worthing courts are operated on a rota between Swain & Co and another law firm.
- You’re ready to go in.
Well, we’ve got you ready for your Court case. So now it’s time to go in.What to expect when you’re in the Courtroom – Click Here.REMEMBER – you can seek free legal advice with Swain & Co Solicitors on receiving your eviction notice. You don’t have to leave it until you get to court.
Although, sometimes it feels easier to pretend it’s not happening.
We get that, so you MUST try to get some advice at court if you haven’t got advice before the court date.
If you need legal representation for your case, or simply aren't sure, call us now to enquire:
Havant Office - 0800 0351 999
Southampton Office - 023 8063 1111
*The main exceptions to this rule are closure orders under the Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and certain claims for possession of land against travellers which can be heard in the Magistrates Court. If your case is going to be heard in the Magistrates Court, make sure you arrange to speak to a solicitor who deals with criminal cases.