How can I make a neurodivergent client’s court appearance less stressful?

I’m a criminal defence solicitor. An autistic client faces a Crown Court trial. I’m concerned they will not cope well under cross-examination. How can I make their court appearance less stressful?

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) provides a court-appointed intermediary service, which may benefit your client.

The aim of the service is to appoint a trained intermediary to attend court hearings and/or conferences with solicitors and counsel.

The role of the intermediary is to:

  • explain the court process
  • rephrase any questions your client does not understand
  • make sure your client is able to understand and follow what is happening at the hearing

The intermediary will be paid either by the Legal Aid Agency or HMCTS.

The intermediary service is available in criminal proceedings and family proceedings.

If your client would like to make use of the scheme, the first step you can take is to obtain an intermediary assessment to ascertain whether they meet the criteria for assistance.

Request an intermediary assessment using the HMCTS application form.

Read HMCTS’ guidance on the intermediary service

For further information, see our guidance on meeting the needs of vulnerable clients.


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

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