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The day of the court case

Take your citation with you and show it to the person at reception. You'll be asked to wait in the waiting area. Other witnesses might be there too. In criminal cases, witnesses for the defence and for the prosecution wait in separate rooms.

When the court case starts and you're waiting to give evidence, you must not discuss your evidence with any other witnesses involved in the case.

Waiting to give evidence

Cases are dealt with as quickly as possible but some can take a long time. Sometimes problems happen on the day, like someone being ill, and you might be asked to return another day. The court will try to minimise the waiting time as much as they can. The court officer will keep you updated on progress of the case and will come and tell you when it's your turn to give evidence.

In criminal court cases, you'll be updated on the progress of the court case at least once per hour.

All Children's Hearings court cases have special timescales to make sure the case is heard as quickly as possible.

If you're concerned about any delays you can speak to the person who asked you to be a witness.

It might be helpful to bring something to help pass the time, like a book or magazine. Some courts have a canteen and most have vending machines for snacks and soft drinks. You should check in advance as you may want to bring a snack with you.

You can bring a friend or family member with you as long as there's enough room in the witness room. When you arrive at court, let the court officer know you have someone with you.

What to wear

Most witnesses choose to dress smartly. It might be helpful to wear clothes you feel comfortable in, as you might be in court all day.

If you're unwell

If you're unwell on the day of the court case, tell who ever asked you to be a witness as soon as possible. You'll need to supply a medical certificate or letter from your doctor.

Seeing someone else involved with the case

You can get support if you're worried about entering the court building or being in the same waiting area as someone else involved with the case.

Someone from the Witness Service, a court official, someone from VIA or the lawyer who cited you may be able to meet you meet you at the court building, or arrange for you to wait in a room away from the other witnesses.

There is no guarantee you will not meet someone else involved in a case.

Intimidation of witnesses is a serious offence. If anyone tries to intimidate you at court, tell your solicitor or court staff – they'll report it to the police. Find out more about witness harassment.
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