Guide

What happens at a civil court case

Last updated: 29 June 2017

People in the courtroom

The judge or sheriff

The judge or sheriff is an expert in the law and is in charge of everything that happens in the court room.

They'll make sure everything is done fairly within the law and that the court rules and legal procedures are followed. They also have a duty to protect the interests of all people involved in the case, including the witnesses.

The lawyers

Normally there will be a lawyer representing each of the parties to a civil case, unless any of the parties are representing themselves.

They'll ask questions in court so the witnesses can give their evidence in their answers. Lawyers appearing in court may be solicitors or advocates.

The parties

These are the people:

  • who have started the case
  • who have had the case started against them

Party litigants

Some people in civil cases decide to represent themselves instead of using a lawyer.

The clerk of court

This person is responsible for assisting the judge or sheriff and keeping the court papers and records.

The court officer

This person assists the court and lets the witnesses know when it's their turn to give evidence. In the courtroom they may show a witness different pieces of evidence, like photographs.

The public and the press

The public may sometimes be excluded from the courtroom. The press is usually allowed to remain. In some cases they may be prevented from publishing anything that may lead to the identification of the parties or witnesses involved. In exceptional cases the judge might order for the courtroom to be completely cleared.

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What happens at a civil court case
People in the courtroom