This guide is for non-criminal cases. Use this guide to understand how to arrange for someone to support you during your remote hearing.
If you’ve been asked to join a hearing by telephone or video, check this guide on what to expect and how to join.
This guidance is for non-criminal cases. You can ask for someone to provide support to you during your remote hearing, whether it’s by phone or video. They could be part of a charitable organisation, local government service, a friend or family member. They cannot be someone involved in the case.
Some hearings, such as confidential family hearings are held in private so you’ll need to check with the court if the person you want to support you is allowed to attend.
They could help you by:
- providing emotional and moral support before, during and after the hearing
- taking notes
- asking for a break for you if you’re upset
- speaking to you afterwards to make sure you understand what was said
Unless the Judge or judging panel gives permission, they cannot:
- take part in the hearing
- represent you or join in the hearing
- give you legal advice
- record, publish or share details of the hearing
If you do not have a legal representative you could have a ‘McKenzie friend’ who can help and advise you during your hearing. Read about what they can do on the Legal Choices website.
Support Through Court is a charity that offers practical support and guidance for those without a legal representative, including for telephone and video hearings. Call their national helpline on 03000 810 006 or visit the Support Through Court website.
Anybody in the hearing can say they do not want the person providing support to be part of the hearing. The judge or panel will review the reasons provided and decide if the person providing support can attend.
Asking someone to support you
You need to contact the person or organisation you want to support you. Talk through your needs and agree availability for the hearing.
Make sure that they:
- are available at the time of the hearing
- have a quiet, private space to join from
- have the necessary technology to join (explained in your hearing notice)
- can meet your support needs
Arranging with the court or tribunal for someone to support you
You’ll need to check with the court or tribunal that the person you’d like to support you can join the remote hearing. Use the contact details on your hearing notice and provide the following information:
- your case number
- hearing time and date
- name of person or organisation
- the phone number of the person to help them join the hearing
- how you would like the person to support you
If the court approves, send the hearing details to the person supporting you so they can join. If you have a phone hearing the court will call the person supporting you when the hearing starts.
If you have not received a response from the court before the hearing date, explain your request to the judge or panel at the start of your hearing.
If the person supporting you cannot share their phone number and you have a phone hearing
Some organisations do not share volunteers’ contact details with the people they support. In this case if you have a phone hearing the organisation will need to contact the court or tribunal themselves to allow them to be added to the hearing.
Give the organisation the court or tribunal email and phone number from your hearing notice and the case details.
The organisation or volunteer will need to send an email with the:
- phone number of the person supporting
- email subject line of
‘Urgent Telephone hearing, date (day/month/year), party v party and case number’,
For example - Urgent Telephone hearing, 20/9/2020, Smith v Jones, CN:123456
This will help court staff find the hearing details quickly and make sure they can add them to your hearing.