Arriving at court

If you have to go to court, this page gives you some tips on where to go and what time to get there, among other things.

What time should I get there?

If you have to go to court, make sure you arrive in plenty of time. It's better to be early than late. If you have a solicitor, they'll be able to tell you what time you should be there. If you're representing yourself and you need some help, get in touch with the sheriff clerk's office at the court for more information.

If your case is in the sheriff court, you'll be told the date you should be there but you won't necessarily be told what time. Most sheriff courts start hearing cases at 10am or 10.30am and 2pm.

Whatever time you've been told to arrive at court, try to be there about half an hour early. That will give you plenty of time to meet your solicitor (if you have one), find the right courtroom and nip to the loo if you need to.

How will I know where to go?

Finding the court

If you're not sure where the court is, have a look at the Scottish Court Service website. It contains addresses and phone numbers for all sheriff courts in Scotland so you can phone the court in advance if you need some directions. It also contains maps of the location of each sheriff court and details on public transport and car parking.

Inside the court

When you actually arrive at court, there will probably be signs telling you where things are. Most courts will have security guards or court officials at the door so you can ask them for help if you need to.

You may have to walk through a security scanner like the ones you see in airports and you may also have your bag or pockets searched. This is for the security and safety of everyone in the court building so don't take offence if you're searched.

How long will I have to wait?

Sheriff courts have lots of cases to deal with most days. Even if you've been given a time to be at court, that's probably the time that court will start and not the time your case will be dealt with. Your case won't necessarily be dealt with first, so you'll probably have to wait for your turn. You might have to wait all morning or even into the afternoon. Some courts will have tannoy systems in place so you won't have to sit in the actual courtroom all day long - you could perhaps sit in the canteen (if there is one) or waiting area.

If you are waiting outside the courtroom you could take a book or magazine with you to read while you are waiting to pass the time. However, you shouldn't be reading while you're in court - some sheriffs may find this to be disrespectful.

If you do leave the courtroom for any length of time during the court proceedings, you should tell the court officer where you'll be so that they can come and find you if necessary. Otherwise, your case might be called before you return to the courtroom.

Can I take my mobile phone with me?

You can take your mobile phone with you but you must have it switched off at all times when you're in the courtroom. Sheriffs don't take kindly to mobile phones going off in the middle of cases and you could even be charged with contempt of court.

If you need to be contacted urgently (for example, if you're looking after a friend or relative who's ill), it would be better for you to use a pay phone in the court to check on them. If it's very urgent, you could leave the court phone number with the person who needs to get in touch. That way, a court official can come and find you if necessary.

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Last updated: 29 December 2014

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

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