A New Wig’s Guide To Litigation Part 2 – “What do I say?”9161 views
A New Wig’s Guide To Litigation is a Guest Series of 4 posts submitted by Morenike Okebu (Lawyer and Partner at GM George Taylor & Co.)
The first thing you say in court is Good Morning! Just kidding…
However, I have advised in Part 1 that you should get to court early. You must find out whether your client is in court or is represented in court because he or she would need to identify himself or herself when the case is called.
Here’s what you need to know about speaking in court:
- Entering Appearance
When your case is called by the court it will often go like this;
Judge: Call the next case.
Registrar: Case Number LS/29/ bla bla bla…
Registrar: Parties absent my Lord/ The Claimant is represented/
This is your cue. If you are for the Claimant/Plaintiff, you announce appearance first, even if the lawyer on the other side is older than you at the bar. If you are for the Defendant, you will announce appearance after the Claimant/Plaintiff. There are different ways appearance is announced and it is debatable which is best:
a. May it please this Honourable Court my name is …….. I humbly announce my appearance for the Claimant in this case.
b. With profound respect to this Honourable Court, my name is …… I am appearing for the Defendant in this case.
There are many other ways, just decide in advance how you want to announce your appearance before the case is called.
- What the Case is in Court for
Immediately after you announce appearance, you would need to let the court know what the matter is for. This means you need to tell the court why you are in court on that date. If the case is for mention, you tell the court it is for mention. If it is for trial, you tell the court it is for trial. A case can come up for a variety of reasons examples are below;
a. Report of service: for you to tell the court whether the documents filed in the case have been delivered to opposing Counsel
b. Trial: examination of witnesses including examination in chief, cross-examination and re-examination.
c. Adoption; this means the case is for parties to adopt their final written addresses.
d. Mention: this means the matter is coming up for the first time and you would be asking for a further date for …
- Speaking Clearly and Appropriately
While you are speaking in court, make sure you speak up and do so, slowly. You know that the court is recording everything you say and so you should be watching the Judge to ensure you are speaking at the right pace. You should also know that there is a language of the court and you need to speak it. The court is not the place for phrases such as:
a. ‘as in’
b. ‘its like’
c. ‘you know now’
Read law reports and learn the language of the court. If you want another date, you are ‘seeking an adjournment’. Opposing Counsel is your ‘learned friend’ or ‘learned senior’. Your client is a ‘party in the case’ and when parties are trying out ADR they are ‘exploring settlement’.
Knowing how to introduce yourself is just the beginning of this litigation journey. You also need to pay attention to the documents you have filed. In the next article, I shall tell you things you need to pay attention to in your documents when you are going to appear in court.
Thanks for reading and look out for Part 3.