Attending court can be a stressful and daunting experience. This Irish Court Guide aims to answer your questions on what you need to know about going to court in Ireland, and to help you to feel better prepared for your court date.
Please note: This guide does not deal with every situation and does not substitute for legal advice. Please speak to one of our team for a confidential chat if you need advice for going to court.
Preparing for Court – Before your court date
Do I need Legal Representation?:
Ahead of your court date, it is advisable that individuals (‘parties’) involved in a court case (‘proceedings’) seek out legal advice from a Solicitor. A Solicitor can explain the legal process involved, and the options available to you in your case. A Solicitor can also engage a Barrister to represent you in Court and argue your case before the Judge if necessary.
How do I get Legal Aid?:
If you are of limited means, you may be eligible to receive legal aid from the Legal Aid Board. If they decide that you are eligible for help, you will need to pay a contribution towards your legal fees.
What is Free Legal Aid (FLAC)?: FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) can also provide limited free legal advice at drop-in clinics around the country.
Court Room Accessibility:
If you have specific personal accessibility requirements, such as, wheelchair ramps or assistive hearing technologies, you should inform the Court Service in advance. A list of courthouses and Courts Service offices is available here.
How do I get an Interpreter for Court?:
If English is not your first language, you can hire your own interpreter, or you can ask the Court to provide an interpreter for you – a Judge will decide whether to grant this.
What Court Documents do I need?:
You may need to submit documentation in advance or bring certain documents with you on the day. You should seek advice from your legal representative on this, or else enquire with Courts Service staff in the relevant courthouse or office which you will be attending.
I don’t feel Safe in Court:
If you have safety concerns about attending court, you should contact a member of the Courts Service before your court date. You may be able to sit elsewhere while waiting for your hearing, or sit behind a screen in court so you cannot see or be seen by the other party.
Domestic Violence in Court
The Courts Service has also provided a list of support in relation to family law and domestic violence on their website.
Your Court Date – Planning your trip to the Court in Advance
To find out the location of your court hearing, a list of courthouses throughout the country and their addresses can be found on The Courts Service of Ireland’s website here. If you cannot recall the date or time of your hearing, the contact details of each court office are also available at that link. You can view lists of upcoming cases in the High Court and Circuit Court by accessing their legal diary page.
How to Get to Court:
Prepare your transport in advance, whether it be by public transport, car or walking. Be sure to estimate your journey time to ensure that you arrive on time.
Childcare Facilities in Court:
There are no childcare facilities at any courthouse. As cases do not always run as scheduled, and often do not run in the order in which they are listed, you may need to allow for spending extra time in the courthouse on the day of your hearing.
The Day of your Court Hearing
You will need to bring the relevant documentation relating to your case with you, such as your court applications, summons, or notice of motion, as applicable. You should also bring a photo ID with you in case you need to verify your identity in court.
What should I wear in Court?:
You need to dress appropriately when you attend your court hearing. The courthouse is a formal environment, so you will need to look smart, or at least neat and tidy.
Arriving at the Courthouse:
When you arrive at the courthouse, you should follow the signage to the courtroom in which your hearing is due to take place, or its nearest waiting area. You should be able to hear your case being called before it starts. The courtroom number, your case reference number and your name or your initials will be called, either over an intercom or in person. Your case reference number is found on your court application/summons/notice of motion.
All courthouses have tight security measures, so please bear in mind what you might have in your pockets, your bag etc.,
Can you get food in Court?
Be prepared to wait, so it is advisable to bring appropriate refreshments with you as there are no food/refreshment outlets available.
Can I bring a Support Person?:
You may be able to bring someone to support you during the hearing, although depending on the nature of the case and the capacity of the courtroom, they may not be allowed to accompany you inside the courtroom.
Inside the Courtroom
Individuals are not expected to know all of the courtroom formalities, and you will be directed on some matters, e.g. on where to sit, when you enter the courtroom.
How to Address the Judge in Court?:
Traditionally, the judge is addressed as ‘Judge’, and everyone will stand when the judge is entering and leaving the courtroom. When speaking to the judge directly, an individual should stand up. Participants are not allowed to interrupt one another and usually the judge will give directions on when you can speak.
Are Mobile Phones allowed in Court?:
Mobile phones cannot be used in court, and must be turned off or put on silent. Eating is not allowed in the courtroom. If you need a break for a moment, you can ask the judge.
When do you get your judgement / decision in Court?
At the end of the hearing, the judge will either make their decision immediately, and give an ‘order’ or a ‘judgment’, or they will take some time to make their decision (known as ‘reserving judgment’).
Once the decision is made, a written copy of the decision will be sent out to you in the post. If you are unhappy with the verdict, you may be able to appeal to a higher court. Appeals must be initiated within specified time frames, so you may wish to get legal advice or speak to a Courts Service staff member about this.
For further information on attending Court, or any other questions you may have, please contact a member of our team in confidence at: email@example.com or telephone: +353 1 679 0780.