You should attend court on the date and time specified in the summons or bail agreement. When you arrive at court the first thing you should do is look at the case list to find out which courtroom you are listed in. The case list is a list of matters which are set before the courts that day. The list is usually displayed in the court’s public waiting area – if you can’t find it, ask at the information counter or court registry counter.

When you have found the courtroom you will be in, tell the Sheriff’s officer or court officer in that courtroom who you are and why you are there. Then take a seat and wait until your name is called. If you want to see the duty solicitor, get to court earlier and ask for directions to the duty solicitor’s office.

Your case is likely to be one of many scheduled at that time and you may need to wait for your case to be called. While in the courtroom, please observe court behaviour.

When your name is called, you will be required to stand in the dock. The dock is a booth-like structure near the front and to the side of the courtroom. To get an idea of what a courtroom looks like, take a virtual tour. Even though this virtual tour shows you a courtroom in the District Court, the general set-up is the same in the Magistrates Court.

Three noticeable differences are:

  • there are no juries in the Magistrates Court
  • judicial officers and lawyers don’t wear wigs or gowns in the Magistrates Court
  • whereas judges preside in the District Court, magistrates preside in the Magistrates Court

When you are in the dock the charge will be read out to you, and you will be asked, “How do you plead?” to which you reply “guilty” or “not guilty”.