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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Going to court and accessibility

If you have to go to court as a witness, juror, victim or defendant you may need extra support or facilities. Courtrooms and places where civil or family proceedings are held should be accessible to disabled people.

Preparing to go to court

If you have to go to court, the court will send you details, including:

  • date and time of the hearing
  • court opening hours and location
  • arrangements, facilities and support for disabled people
  • a helpline telephone or textphone number so you can get further information

You can help the court to ensure that things run smoothly by telling them in advance if you have any requirements.

You can take a friend, relative or carer to court. They'll not be able to get expenses such as travel costs unless the court agrees that they have to be there to assist you.

Facilities at courts

Courts must provide a reasonable alternative method of making services available to disabled people. For instance, where a physical feature makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of them.

Types of facilities and 'reasonable adjustments' court buildings should put in place include:

  • disabled parking spaces near to the courthouse
  • hearing aid induction loops in courtrooms
  • information leaflets and oath cards available in large print
  • advice and information on court procedure
  • staff trained to assist disabled people when necessary

Contact the court for information about the services and facilities available. Most courts have a 'customer service officer' who can answer any questions you may have. If required, staff can organise a court visit in order to familiarise you with the court building. Details about how to contact the court will be on any correspondence you have been sent.

You can also look up information about the court on the HM Courts and Tribunals Service online court finder.

Intermediaries in criminal trials

If you're a witness in a criminal trial and need help to communicate your evidence, you may be allowed to use a Registered Intermediary. You can use the intermediary to help you give evidence in the police station and at court.

Registered Intermediaries are approved by the court. They explain to the witness the questions the court, defence and prosecution teams ask. They also communicate the answers that the witness gives in response. Intermediaries must not change the meaning of what they explain.

Intermediaries do not act for the defence, the prosecution or the witness. They are neutral.

Being summoned to be a juror

Jury summons forms ask you if you will have any extra requirements. Additional information will then be sent to you once the jury summoning bureau has processed the reply to your summons. This will tell you about the court facilities.

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