Courtrooms are are almost always filled with passion, emotions and drama. Litigation can be a very stressful process and very often complainants or defendants find it difficult to cope with attending court.

It is important though to put your best foot forward when you step into the courtroom. Factors such as behaviour and appearence may actually play a part in the outcome of your case.

STAY INFORMED: The first step in coping with a lawsuit is to get the correct information about the process.  Talk to a lawyer about what to expect, what kinds of time limits are in place, whether you have a good basis upon which to bring a claim or to dispute liability or claimed damages, and whether settling out of court or defending the case at trial would be more beneficial to your situation.

COMMUNICATE OPENLY AND HONESTLY WITH YOUR ATTORNEY-AT-LAW: Nobody knows what happened better than the parties to any proceedings – not your lawyer, not their lawyer, not any witnesses and not a Judge or Magistrate or jury.  Your lawyer is only equipped with the factual tools you can provide him or her.  So, get involved, be candid with your lawyer, and try to stay focused on solutions.

PREPARE YOURSELF MENTALLY: Get counselling if needed or confide in someone you trust. Increased stress or inability to manage the emotional and psychological aspects of litigation can only prevent you from fully participating in your own matter. Always communicate with your lawyer about your state of mind before attending court.

DRESS APPROPRIATELY: When you enter a courtroom, always show respect for the Court. The way you look is the first thing the Judge or Magistrate will notice about you, so always consider your appearance. Dress conservatively and with care and look serious about the whole event.

THERE’S NO NEED FOR HOSTILITY: Attending at court can be an emotional rollercoaster, but it is not the place for anger and hostility. You may think that the other side’s lawyer is a complete monster and your worst enemy, but he/she is only doing his/her job. Judges and Magistrates pick up on pointless aggression towards opposing parties or their lawyers and don’t like it. Control your feelings.

AVOID THE DRAMA: You are not the lead actor in a soap opera. Although emotions can run high, your best option is to remain calm, logical and polite. When the other side is talking to the Court, do not sigh loudly, snicker, roll your eyes or make gestures. It achieves nothing but damage to your credibility.

TRUST YOUR LAWYER: Your attorney-at-law knows the lawsuit game better than you do, and for good reason: that’s what you hired them to do! Understand that some things you may want to say won’t help you legally.  Trust that your lawyer will do what they can to protect you from unintentional admissions of wrongdoing, will advocate for your best interest, and will give you as straight an answer as possible to your questions.

PAY ATTENTION IN COURT: Nobody is more interested in your matter than you. Once you step into that courtroom, be attentive. Be thoughtful. Be present.

Of course, your own attorney-at-law would be the best person to guide you on the litigation process, but these tips should be kept in mind if you have to attend as a claimant, defendant, petitioner, applicant or respondent in any matter before the Court. Good luck!



About The Author Jason Nathu

Jason Nathu is an Attorney-at-Law and Tutor attached to the Legal Aid Clinic at the Hugh Wooding Law School.