Whether you are representing yourself or being represented by a solicitor in a court case, entering into hearings is a nerve-racking and concerning experience.
Personal injury claims and clinical negligence allegations alike can end up with a court hearing, with you looking forcompensation for pain and loss of earnings. Before the day of the hearing, there are four key preparations that will stand you in good stead and give you the best chance of coming across how you wish and get the result you desire.
Practice Note Taking
Taking notes will be incredibly important when in the court hearing so that you can respond effectively to comments made about the case and answer questions thoroughly. Either Pitman or Teeline shorthand are useful skills to know in many walks of life – whether you are training as a journalist, working in admin or appearing in a court hearing – and will allow you to make notes and take down quotes quickly onto paper.
Refer back to notes as much as you can, without looking like you are reading from a script. Be clear and concise in your language while responding to every part of the notes you have taken to appear comprehensive and well-prepared.
Consult Appropriate Witnesses
Depending on the type of court hearing you are taking part in, various types of witnesses might be appropriate. For instance, if you are making a personal injury claim as a result of a car collision, then any physical witnesses to the incident might be called upon. If the claim is more niche, a psychologist expert witness could be the type of professional that is called upon as part of your supporting evidence. Professional witnesses such as these are considered an authority on the topic and will have some influence over the end decision due to the weight that their opinions carry.
Prepare Documents Accordingly
With evidential documents, prepare them well in advance. These documents could be facts, statements, or images, such as CCTV footage of yourself. Requesting, obtaining and organising these types of documents in a manner that makes them easy to point towards, find, and read from when in court is critical to forming a coherent and believable claim.
Speak Confidently and Clearly with a Mirror or Family Member
Public speaking is not something that everybody is naturally comfortable with, but through learning the basics of talking in front of a group of people, you will be able to make a better impression when arguing your cause.
If a course in public speaking isn’t possible, or something that you don’t wish to spend money on, simply practice in front of a mirror or with a family member. Ensure you are comfortable maintaining eye contact and using hand gestures to reinforce a point rather than distract from the words you are saying.
In summary, appearing in a court hearing is a case of preparation and confidence. Luckily, the two will go hand in hand: the more prepared you are, the more confident you should be in your abilities to achieve the result you are looking for.