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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Going to court if you have a 'hidden' impairment

You may be worried about going to court and you may feel the stress might make a medical condition or impairment worse. You should tell the court if you have any concerns.

'Hidden' impairments

Hidden impairments include disabilities that may not be obvious to other people - like a slight mobility impairment, diabetes, epilepsy, cancer or dyslexia.

Things to think about

All courts have first aid officers who have been trained to assist people who become unwell while attending court. If you have any concerns, speak to the court's customer service officer or tell the person on the reception desk that you may need help.

You will be able to visit the court before you formally need to attend court. This will give you a chance to get a feel for the surroundings and to ask the customer service officer any questions you may have. To arrange a pre-court visit, contact the Customer Service Officer at the court you are due to attend.

If your impairment or medical condition is likely to affect you during a hearing, tell the usher/court clerk before the hearing begins. For example, you may need to sit down while addressing the judge or magistrate.

Examples of assistance to ask for include:

  • having questions read out to you so that a form can be completed
  • if you have impaired speech, having someone to speak for you
  • being accompanied at all times by someone who can help, for example with holding papers 
  • being able to eat or drink at regular intervals during the hearing because you are diabetic
  • having regular breaks, for example to take medication

If any of the above situations apply to you, you must bring this to the attention of the court as soon as possible.

You can find details about how to contact the court on any correspondence you have or the HM Courts and Tribunals Service online court finder.

Further information and advice

Your first point of contact should always be with the customer service officer at the court. If you need further information, please contact HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

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