Court’s etiquettes (General Guidance)
It is very important that the self-representing Litigant at the start of the case must introduce him or herself.
- My name is John, I am a defendant in this case and I am also self- representing in this case.
- My name is John, I am a claimant in this case and I am also self-representing in this case.
- My name is John and I am representing the claimant/defendant which is also myself.
After the introduction
The litigant in person can ask whether the Judge is aware of the facts of the case, however, very politely and professionally.
If the judge asks for the facts it is important to describe or provide a summary of the facts otherwise providing an over view of the facts is a good practice.
Referring the Judge to a particular fact in the Bundle
I would like to refer your lordship to the case of Smith v John, in particular, at page 6 and second last Para of the bundle.
Referring to the Lawyer on the other side
The self-representing litigant in the case may refer to the lawyer on the other side as ‘my friend’ (solicitor) or ‘my learned friend’ (barrister).
Comparing two cases or situations
My lord/ Your Honour/ Sir, the situation can be compared and distinguished with the case…
In conclusion, the Self-Representing Litigant has to conclude what it is that he/she would like from the court.
It is my submission that the statement is at best, uninformed opinion, incapable of being misrepresentations.
The self-representing litigants can end his/her submission by inviting the judge for further questions.
My Lord, I have no further arguments to make. “May I be of any further assistance”?
In the case where a judge has no further questions, the self- representing litigants can end his/her submission by simply stating that “I am Obliged”.
Structuring a submission
- If this hasn’t already been done, introduce yourself and your opponent or at least yourself as a self- representing litigant.
- Set out concisely what you are applying for.
- You might ask the judge if he/she is familiar with the facts. If so, then you only need to highlight a few key points important to your submission.
- If she is not, give a concise account of the facts relevant to your submission.
- This is the main body of your submission.
- Divide it into the separate grounds (eg different breaches of a Code of Practice).
- For each ground, set out the legal basis and give authority.
- Relate the facts to this law.
- If you quote from authorities, keep your quotations relevant (eg don’t quote a whole paragraph of a judgement if you are only relying on a single sentence).
- Summarise what you are asking for, and why.
- Invite questions from the judge (‘if I can be of any further assistance…’).
Some other points to remember
- Please stand up when speaking to the judge.
- Address the judge as ‘Your Honour’ to circuit judges, recorders. Magistrates are addressed as sir or madam, High Court judges as ‘My Lord’ or my lady.
- Please speak clearly but at a decent pace which is neither fast nor slow.
- Refer to the other lawyers in the case as ‘my friend’ (solicitor) or ‘my learned friend’ (barrister).
- Please do not interrupt a judge while he/she is speaking or asking questions. You have to allow the judge to finish his/her question first and you can answer.
- Please stay silent or remain quiet when the lawyer from the other side is presenting his/her case or submission. You cannot and are not allowed to interrupt the other side.
- Always refer your issues to Judge, where you disagree with the facts or anything else presented to the court by the other side.
- If you are referring a Civil Case during your submission, for example, Smith v John, you may pronounce it as Smith and John. For Example “in the case of Smith and John” …..
- In Criminal cases, for example, ‘R v Smith’ is said as ‘the Crown and Smith’.
- Most importantly Avoid giving your opinion or even the use of such phrases such as in my opinion… or I think……., You have to present a legal argument with an evidence so opinion or thinking has no place in the submission of your case.
- Please refer to samples
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