More and more people are going to court without a lawyer – and that includes going to a final hearing.
People suddenly realise that the final hearing is where you finally get to to persuade the judge that you are right about your case. We are going try and set out a few blogs on this theme to give those of you on your own a sporting chance of getting some home points across.
You probably went to court already a few times but for a refresher on the basics, then have a look at this page first.
- Opening speech – often in family law cases this takes the form of a bit of housekeeping – who everybody is, has the judge received the bundle, etc. However sometimes it is used by the lawyers to set out what the case is about, and who has to prove what. If you are in person, do not try and do an opening speech, instead use a position statement to set out basic stuff in short bite-sized chunks (three pages max).
- Evidence of the applicant – the applicant goes first (except when the judge decides to change the order of witnesses – often for Cafcass to go first). this is called “evidence in chief”. Then the respondent or their lawyer “cross examines” them.
- Evidence of any other witnesses for the applicant, first in chief and then each witness is cross examined.
- Evidence of the respondent (or if there is more than one, the 1st respondent then the 2nd and so on). The respondent gives their evidence in chief. The respondent is then cross examined.
- Evidence of any other witnesses for the respondent, first in chief and then each witness is cross examined.
- Submissions: these are a round up of why you say the court should find in your favour. Usually the respondent goes first but often the judge switches people round.
- Judgement: the judge will tell you what their judgement and order is.
No blog could EVER hope to replicate skilled advice. There is no doubt that representation makes a difference in even the most hopeless case. but hopefully this will at least help you to follow what is going on.