Concept for - Attending court as a vulnerable person

Attending court can be incredibly intimidating and make you feel vulnerable, especially if you are a victim of domestic abuse.

Special measures if you’re feeling vulnerable

The first thing you should do is notify your legal representative or the court in advance of the hearing so that they can make a request for something called special measures.

Special measures include:

  • an advance viewing of the court before your hearing to familiarise yourself with your surroundings
  • screens in the courtroom so that you do not have to see the other party while in court
  • a separate waiting room, usually with witness protection
  • separate entrances/exits on the day of your hearing

Please note the special measures will depend on the court’s facilities; getting in touch with them as early as you can is advisable.

Other ways to make you feel more at ease

We often meet clients away from the court and walk into court with them. Attending court is a daunting prospect and we try to make the experience the best that we can for our clients.

You can bring a family member, friend, or your domestic abuse support worker, such as an IDVA (independent domestic violence advisor) with you to court for additional support before you go into the courtroom. You would need consent from all parties and the Judge for them to enter the courtroom with you.

If you have additional needs or English is not your first language, you can apply for measures such as an interpreter or sign language signer.

If at any point during the hearing you need a break, please inform your legal representative and they can ask the Judge. Ensure you have agreed a method of communicating with you, such as via a notepad which you can draw their attention to if needed.

For further tips, you can refer to my past two articles which outline what to expect from in-person and remote hearings.