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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Going to court if you are deaf or hearing impaired

If you are a deaf or hearing impaired person, the court should provide information about the communication support and facilities that are available to you.

Facilities at courts

Most courtrooms are fitted with induction loops including infra red facilities. If you think this may help, tell the customer service officer at the court as soon as you know you'll have to attend a hearing.

If you want, you may visit the courtroom before the case is heard to be certain the facility will help you. To arrange a pre-court visit, contact with the customer service officer at the court you are due to attend.

If the start of your case is called over a tannoy system and you feel this may be a problem. Let the person on the reception desk know this.

If you're a witness or directly involved in a case and require an interpreter, the customer service officer will arrange this. You should give them as much notice as possible.

You can find details about how to contact the court:

  • on any correspondence you have been sent
  • via the HM Courts and Tribunals Service online court finder

Using an interpreter

If you're attending court as, for example, a claimant or defendant, HM Courts and Tribunals Service will pay reasonable costs for an interpreter. The interpreter will assist you at your hearing. HM Courts and Tribunals Service will only pay for interpreters booked through the court.

If you require the use of an interpreter, you should contact the court as soon as possible in order to tell them. The court will make arrangements for an interpreter to attend.

The HM Courts and Tribunals Service is not responsible for providing an interpreter for any preparation involved in the course of your case. For example discussions with a solicitor.

Using a friend or relative as an interpreter

Unless your friend or relative has a qualification in relaying information between deaf and hearing people, it may be better to use a qualified interpreter.

If you want a friend or relative to interpret for you at a hearing, you will need to ask the judge for permission. The judge must be satisfied that your friend or relative can:

  • exactly interpret what you are saying to the court 
  • interpret what is being said to you

The customer service officer can help you arrange this. 

Further information and advice

Your first point of contact should always be with the customer service officer at the court you are to attend. You can find contact details on correspondence you have been sent or via the HM Courts and Tribunals Service online court finder.

Some courts have introductory videos or DVDs which are signed or contain subtitles. As well as British Sign Language, it may be possible to get DVDs that use other forms of sign language. For example, Sign Supported English (SSE).

If you need further information, please contact HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

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