Attending court can be a daunting and anxious experience for staff, therefore, it may be helpful for you to think about having a court visit in advance of your trial/hearing. A court visit is one way, if not the best way, to prepare and familiarise yourself with the court and court process. This will help you know where the court is located, allowing you to plan your route, parking and travelling on the day of giving your evidence, the less stress the better on the day! This may seem like simple measures but will ease a great deal of stress for you on the day of giving your evidence.
Having a court familiarisation visit will also help prepare you in advance of the court surroundings, allowing you to become familiar with the court, courtroom, witness room giving you plenty of information and guidance on who is who along with court process. This will take away the unknown formality of the court and allow you to approach the witness stand feeling more confident and assured of the process, keeping in mind, you are assisting the court as a professional witness. If you are feeling anxious about an upcoming trial or an upcoming Fatal Accident Inquiry, I would encourage you to consider a court visit which I will be happy to assist and support you with this.
Court visits have been of great assistance to many NHS staff over the years (specifically in FAI’s cases) helping staff prepare well in advance.
Court visits are normally arranged between 1.00pm until 2.00pm when the court stop for lunch. This allows you to visit the court and witness room when everything is a little quieter to allow you to take it all at your own pace and allows for any specific concerns and questions you may have.
When the day arrives of giving your evidence, dress comfortably and smart, arrive in plenty of time.
When you arrive at the court you will have to go through court security first (a bit like airport security – you will be searched, bag, jacket) which can take time if court is busy, specifically, first thing in the morning when everyone is arriving at court.
Make sure to take your citation with you to court and report to the main reception desk where court staff will direct you to the appropriate area/witness room where you will wait until you hear your name being called by court staff. Be prepared for a wait!
When the court is ready for you to give your evidence, you will hear your name being called by a court official who will take you to the court room, once inside the court room they will direct you to the witness box where you will remain standing to give your evidence (unless you are unable to do so due to medical reasons). You will then be asked to take the oath or affirm by the Sheriff or Judge and questioning will then begin with the Procurator Fiscal/Advocate Depute who will address you first.