On Tipp FM, Andrea Gleasure, Solicitor, spoke to Fran on “Tipp Today” about what to be aware of if you have to go to court.
Listen to Andrea’s discussion:[soundcloud id=’159800925′]
Most people have no experience of what it actually feels like to attend court today we are going to discuss what actually happens when your case gets to Court.
First of all what Courts do you go to?
There are three courts which a Client could primarily be involved in – the District Court, the Circuit Court and the High Court. There are other Courts and Tribunals, which you may be involved with, but for the purpose of this discussion we will limit ourselves to these three Courts.
What is the difference in these three Courts?
In the context of a personal injuries case the difference is based on the amount of money that the Courts can award.
The District Court has responsibility for hearing minor criminal matters, small civil claims, liquor licensing, and certain family law applications. The civil jurisdiction is limited to damages not exceeding €15,000; This was recent increased from approx €6,300
The Circuit Court is an intermediate level court.The civil jurisdiction of the Circuit court is limited to a compensation claim not exceeding €75,000 (€60,000 if a claim for damages for personal injuries) this was recently increased from €38K
The High Court is then appropriate court to hear cases involving claims for damages in excess of €70,000 (personal injury €60,000) This Court mainly sits in Dublin but it does come to either Waterford or Kilkenny amongst other venues three times a year.
What should someone call a Judge?
The correct way for anyone to address a Judge is “Judge”
If someone has a Personal Injuries case coming up is there anything that they should be doing?
We always make sure that we have an uptodate statement detailing their current symptoms and injuries from the accident. We make sure that reports are always up todate as the Court can only deal with the case on the basis of medical reports that are before it. We make sure that we have reports dealing with each and every injury sustained. We always make sure that witnesses are available ie lay and medical witnesses
Is it useful for a someone who has never been to Court to visit the Court in advance of their case?
Yes, Preparation and experience are two key elements to the successful presentation of any court case, however, experience of court is something very few people have. This is why it is a goodidea to visit the court a month or two before the case and watch how other cases are presented. Visiting a court before your case allows you to see what happens and will help you to be less nervous when your day in court comes. Courts are public buildings and the public are entitled to sit in on most cases with the main exception of family law matters.
Can anyone go in and view a case?
Yes Members of the public. There is a public area in the courtroom where people may sit and listen. The public can go into any court unless the case is being held ‘in camera’, which means in private. This is to protect the privacy of the people in the court ie Family law cases
How should someone behave in Court?
Put Your Best Foot Forward You should remember that the day you attend the Court for your case is the only chance the judge will have to see you and hear your evidence. It is essential therefore that you create a good impression. You should dress in a manner that shows proper respect for the court and behave in a respectful manner at all times. In giving your evidence you should make sure that the judge can hear you properly and understand what you are saying. You should answer to
the best of your ability any question put to you but remember not to give any hasty or confused replies as these are unlikely to help your case.
How much compensation should someone expect to receive in going to court?
A key difficulty with valuing personal injuries is that we cannot form a clear opinion on a value until we have a clear prognosis from your doctors. For this reason, we will usually not be able to offer more than a general guideline on the value of your injury at the beginning. As time moves on and we get more medical information, that opinion will be revised until we have enough information to value your injury with confidence. Ultimately it is up to the court to fix the value of your claim. Should your case go that far, you should bear in mind that judges can vary greatly in the amount of compensation that they award.
Does the case have to go to court?
As a general rule, the majority of cases are settled without going into Court. However, they are only settled provided that our Client is agreeable to accepting the figure that is offered in full and final settlement of their claim. I always meet with Clients well in advance of Court and agree with them what would be acceptable if settlement talks were entered in to. This means that the Client is not put under pressure to agreeing something on the day due to the strange and stressful environment.