Crown court advocacy procedure tips
Understanding the procedure and etiquette of the Crown Court is important in helping to build your reputation. These tips will take you through the basics.
When you arrive at court
- Head for the robing room, making sure you have the code to get in
- Sign in, otherwise you will not be paid
- Take only papers and books into the courtroom, leave anything else in the robing room
Find the usher
Let the usher know when you’re ready. Once in court, make sure you sit in the right place. The Crown always sit furthest away from the jury.
Addressing the judge
Judges at the Central Criminal Court are addressed as “Your Honour”.
Crown Court judges are usually addressed as “Your Honour” unless they’re sitting as a High Court judge (red judge) or are a specially designated senior judge (such as the Recorder of Leeds). In those cases, they’re addressed as “My Lord” or “My Lady”.
If you’re unsure, ask the usher.
Do not say “good morning” to a judge or a witness.
You’ll normally be introduced by your opponent if you’re defending. If not, you can open by saying: “May it please your honour, I appear for the defendant.”
Addressing the other side
If the other party is represented by a barrister you should refer to them as “my learned friend”. If they're represented by a solicitor, refer to them as “my friend”.
If the other party is acting as a litigant in person you should refer to them as “the claimant/defendant” or “Mr/Mrs/Miss...”.
Leaving the court
When your case ends, or if there’s a short adjournment, you must stay in court until the judge leaves or, if there’s another case following yours, until another advocate takes your place.