Going to court and accessibility
If you have to go to court as a witness, juror, victim, applicant, respondent or defendant you may need extra support or facilities. Courtrooms and places where civil or family proceedings are held should be accessible to people with disabilities.
Preparing to go to court
If you have to go to court, you will be sent the necessary details, including:
- the date and time of the hearing
- court opening hours and location
- arrangements, facilities and support for people with disabilities
- a telephone or textphone number for more information
You can help the court ensure that things run smoothly by telling them in advance if you have any requirements. You can take a friend, relative or carer to court.
Facilities at courts
Courts must provide a reasonable alternative for making services available to people with disabilities, where a physical feature makes it impossible or unreasonably difficult to make use of them. Types of facilities and 'reasonable adjustments' court buildings should put in place include:
- disabled parking spaces near to the courthouse
- hearing aid induction loops in courtrooms
- information leaflets and oath cards available in large print
- advice and information on court procedure
- staff trained to assist disabled people when necessary
Contact the court for information about the services and facilities available. All courts have a 'customer service officer' who can answer any questions you may have. Most courts also have a ‘disability liaison officer’ who will be pleased to assist people with disabilities if necessary. If required, staff can organise a court visit in order to familiarise you with the court building. Details about how to contact the court will be on any correspondence you have been sent.
You can also look up court addresses, contact details, facilities and maps, and download local information leaflets on the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service website.
Intermediaries in criminal trials
If you are acting as a witness in a criminal trial and need help to communicate your best evidence, you may be allowed to use a 'registered intermediary'. You can use the intermediary to help you give evidence in the police station and at court. Registered Intermediaries are people the court approves to explain to the witness the questions that the court, the defence and the prosecution teams ask, and to communicate the answers that the witness gives in response.
Intermediaries must not change the meaning of what they explain. Intermediaries do not act for the defence, the prosecution or the witness - they are neutral.
Being summoned to be a juror
Jury summons forms ask you if you will have any extra requirements. Additional information will then be sent to you once the customer service centre has processed the reply to your summons and this will tell you about the court facilities.
Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service
Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service carries out the administration and support for:
- the Court of Appeal
- the High Court
- the Crown Court
- the magistrates' courts
- the county courts
- the coroners court
- the Enforcement of Judgments Office and
- a range of Tribunals
It has the corporate aim of "serving the community through the administration of justice". You can find out more, including how it is structured, on the Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service website.
- Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service website
- Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service (contacts section)