Single Parent's Guide - Who's Who in the Court Room
Whether you are, representing yourself in court or are going to court with a legal representative, it is important you are aware of who is who and what they are doing in relation to your case!
Lawyer: We often hear the term ‘lawyer’ but what does it mean? Lawyer is actually an American expression used because America does not have the separate professions of Barristers and Solicitors. In the UK a lawyer is actually anyone who holds a legal qualification but the term tends to be used to describe barristers and solicitors.
Barrister: The Barrister is, typically, the person who represents you in court. They are the ones who stand up and speak on your behalf. They may also be referred to as an ‘Advocate’. Highly experienced barristers are given the title "Queen's Counsel" (or King's) and are called a QC (or KC). The are also known as "Silks", after the silk gown that is their uniform.
Solicitor: Though solicitors can also represent you in court, they tend to be more involved in the initial stages of your case and focus mainly on litigation. Litigation work includes, meeting with clients, writing letters to the other side's solicitors and general case-building work.
Judge: The judge is the one who sits and hears your case. It will be he/she who decides the outcome of your case. Depending on what court you are in will depend upon how many judges will be present at your trial and the title the judge will be given.
Jury: In a criminal trial you are likely to see 12 people sat in the court room. These people are known as the jury. They are randomly selected individuals who determine the verdict of the trial, ie guilty or not guilty. The purpose of the jury is to uphold our ‘right to be tried by our peers’. The judge makes sure non of the jury know you or anything about the details of the case, so they can make an unbiased decision.
Prosecution: This is a term used in criminal proceedings. The prosecution will be the people bringing the charges to court - usually the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Defendant: In criminal proceedings this is the term given to the accused. The reason that they are called the defendant is because they (and any legal team they choose) are defending themselves against the accusation brought before the court.
Claimant: This is the term used in civil proceedings (non criminal). This will be the party who is bringing the ‘claim’ to court.
Respondent: In a civil case, this is the equivalent of the defendant in criminal cases: The respondent is the one ‘responding’ to the claimant’s allegation.
Now that you know who’s who, it might be helpful to look at Single Parents Guide to Courts and Judges.
If your ex has been violent and is taking you to court for contact with the children, read our Single Parent Guide for Being Taken to Court by violent ex.