Hundreds of court cases take place every day.  If you are instructed to appear in a court case it can be extremely nerve-wracking and hard to know what to expect.

Preparing for a court appearance

Lawyers are involved in many criminal court cases. The ones working on the case you are appearing in will explain what you should expect to happen on the day of the court appearance. They will also let you know about anything you should prepare for in advance.

Attending court as a witness

If you are appearing as a witness in a case you may want to prepare by reading the information on the Citizens Advice and Victim Support sites.

Does it matter who supports me in court proceedings?

The outcome of a court case can affect you in many ways. It can affect you emotionally, financially and have an effect on your relationship with your relatives and friends. So the answer has to be yes it does matter who supports you in court proceedings. However, there are other things to bear in mind when you are making your choice.

Regulated lawyers

If you use a lawyer it is worthwhile to first check whether they are regulated (see our Types of lawyers section for details of regulated lawyers). There is a common misconception that all lawyers are regulated, however this is not the case. If you use a lawyer regulated by an approved regulator of legal services, this means that:

  • their regulator sets standards for their training and education which they must meet
  • they have to follow a Code of Conduct and requirements set down by their regulator
  • you can check that they are on their regulator’s register and whether there is any disciplinary action against them
  • they must have insurance to cover claims made if anything goes wrong
  • you can complain to the Legal Ombudsman about any problems with the service you receive 

Unregulated help - McKenzie Friends

You may come across people called McKenzie Friends who provide support with court proceedings. If your budget will not stretch to using a regulated lawyer, support from a family member, friend or volunteer from a charitable organisation offering legal assistance can be very important.

It is worth remembering that McKenzie Friends are not regulated. This means that even when you pay for a legal service from a McKenzie friend, if things go wrong, you will not get the same protections you would if using a regulated lawyer.

See our information on McKenzie Friends to learn what they can do and how they could help you in court.

Where can I find out more?