Eviction case in Court? Part 2- What to expect in court
Facing possession proceedings? The reality of possibly losing your home is scary.
We want to help you by giving you a guide of what to expect when you’re in the courtroom. Knowledge can reduce anxiety.
In the Courtroom
When the Judge is ready to hear your case, the court usher will call the name of the case (for example "Portsmouth City Council and John Smith").
When you hear your name, you should go immediately to the correct courtroom.
Switch off or silence your mobile phone.
You will not be able to take drink or food in with you.
Courtrooms vary in layout and size depending on which court building you are in and which rooms are available.
All County Court cases are heard by a District Judge or a Deputy District Judge.
Nobody wears a wig or gown and the Judge will be wearing a business suit or other formal attire.
The usher or your adviser (if you have one) will direct you to your seat.
Most Judges are happy for everybody to sit down during the hearing but you might want to wait for others to sit down first to make sure.
What the Judge will say and hear
The Judge usually asks the Landlord or Mortgage lender to speak first because they are the ones bringing the case - the 'claimant'.
The Judge will ask for key information (like how much the rent is or whether there are any arrears) and may ask the claimant to provide paperwork.
Once the Judge has heard all the necessary information, they are likely to ask you (or your adviser) to tell them about the circumstances.
If you have an adviser, they will tell the Judge information about your circumstances which is relevant to the case.
- If an agreement has been made, this may be as simple as confirming the details.
- If there is no agreement, the adviser might ask the Judge for the outcome you are wanting and explain why the Judge should make that order.
Your adviser should have made it clear to you what they are intending to say.
You should always tell them if you disagree with the way they suggest to manage your case.
The adviser is there to tell you your options and advise on what the likely outcomes of those options are. You remain in charge of the way your case is handled. Speak up if you aren't happy with something or are unsure!
If you are representing yourself, the Judge is likely to ask you specific questions about your circumstances.
In most cases, there is only a limited number of things the Judge needs to consider. Don't be offended or worried if the Judge only asks 'yes' or 'no' questions.
If there is something you want to say to the Judge, make sure you say it as it may be important.
The Judge will guide you whether what you have to say is relevant or not and will ask follow-up questions if they need more information. The Judge shouldn't be cross or angry if you bring something up which isn't relevant as you aren't expected to be an expert on the law.
Depending on how complex the case is, there may be some further discussion between the people in court or the case may be very short.
Once the Judge has heard all the relevant information they will begin 'summing-up'.
Once the Judge starts this, you shouldn't interrupt unless you have something very important to say. The Judge will confirm what their decision is and will read out the order they are making.
If you are representing yourself, you should take notes on the order the Judge makes as you might not get a written copy in the post for 2-4 weeks.
If you don't understand any part of the order, you should wait until the Judge has stopped speaking and then ask for clarification.
Once the Judge has finished he will indicate that the hearing has finished and everybody will leave the courtroom.
After you leave the court
If you have any questions about the order which has been made, ask your adviser.
If you are representing yourself and the other side is a housing officer or has legal representation, it is usually OK to ask them for advice.
The other side will usually be happy to confirm the wording of the order and clarify any key dates. However, they will not be able to give you specific advice on what you should do now.
You are now free to leave the court and the court will send you an order in the post. If you haven't had this after 4 weeks, call the court to ask.
Don't forget to collect any items which were seized by security on your way in!
If you saw a court desk adviser, they will write to you around 1 -2 weeks after your hearing to remind you of the outcome and provide written advice on what you should do.
If you have any questions about the hearing, or think you need further advice, contact your court desk adviser for more information.
Depending on your financial situation and the facts of your case, you may be entitled to FREE or reduced cost Legal Aid. Your adviser may be able to formally represent you as the case moves forward or refer you to somebody who can.
Swain & Co Solicitors are Legal Aid housing specialists and can represent clients in a range of housing cases in and around Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
If you need legal representation for your case, or simply aren't sure, call us now to enquire: