Long before trial you will have already filed and served the evidence you will be relying upon but you should plan ahead as to what to take to small claims court trial.
The Papers Relating To The Case
Although the court and your opponent should have a copy of your evidence, consisting of your witness statements and documents, it is advisable to take more additional copies, as it is sometimes the case that the other party (and even the Judge) might say that it does not have all the papers or never received them. For example, you will want a set for you to refer to but it is always helpful to have further copies available to provide to the other side, if they argue not to have received them.
It is also best to have copies to be able to provide to witnesses if necessary.
Although the rules and guidance in relation to small claims is generally more flexible and loose, the trial Judge will want things to move smoothly. Missing papers and the like will get a Judge’s back up, especially if it creates delay.
Remember, that any witness who gives evidence by a written statement, must also attend trial to allow questions to be posed of him / her. If a witness does not attend, it means if likely the court will give less weight to the evidence of that witness or even exclude the witness evidence entirely.
A witness should be allowed access to his / her witness statement whilst giving evidence but the statement must not be marked in any way. Therefore, letting witnesses have unmarked copies of their statements for the day is usually very helpful.
Other Useful Things To Take
It is not permitted to record court hearings, whether by video or audio file. If you want to make notes on the day, you need to have a pen and paper to hand. It depends upon what the dispute is about but it is often handy to have a calculator available.
What Not To Take To Court
You can find guidance upon what is not allowed in court buildings here. It is sometimes surprising what people take into a court building. A common item of contraband are knives and other pointy things that might be on a key ring.
It is generally up to the discretion of the court security as to whether they think an item poses a hazard and potential weapon. The items specifically identified on the .gov page, might might be confiscated, include:
- blades – such as scissors, penknives and razors
- other sharp items – such as knitting needles and darts
- glass – for example bottles
- metal cutlery
- syringes (unless you have a prescription)
- toy guns and other things that look like guns
- tools – for example screwdrivers, hammers and nails
- ropes and chains
- liquids that are not drinks or prescription medicine – such as oils, perfumes lighter refills and cleaning products
- full-length umbrellas
- crash helmets
Drinks – You can take in unopened drinks in cartons and cans, drinks in a bottle, flask or cup with a lid – these cannot be made of glass. If your drink is opened, or in a bottle, flask or cup, you will be asked to drink some to prove it is not harmful.
Medicines – You can take in prescription medicines. They must have the pharmacist label with your name and the date they were issued.
Security staff will check the label.
Each court building has a different layout and systems but at security you will be expected to walk through a metal detector, after emptying your pockets. You will also need to place the pocket contents and your bag through another metal detector or searched visually.