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Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are the Courts located?
The Courts (Criminal and Civil) are located in the new Court Complex adjoining St. James' Chambers. Click here for more information about the location of and access to the Court.

What do I do when I arrive at the Court Complex?
You will have to go through security checks upon arrival.  You should then report to the Reception Desk in the foyer (known as the Grand Hall).  A member of staff will be pleased to direct you to the appropriate Court and tell you where to wait. Click here for more information about Reception, Opening Times and Security.

I am disabled - can I access the Court Complex easily?
Yes.  There is a ramp leading to the main entrance door. Once inside the building all levels can be accessed by lift.  If you ask at the Reception Desk a member of staff will be pleased to assist you.

Are the Courts open to the public?
Yes.  Most of our Courts are open to the public, with the exception of matrimonial, childcare and juvenile courts which are held in camera.  Criminal trials, sentencing courts and plea and directions hearings are all open courts as are the Full, Ordinary and Interlocutory Courts. 
Very occasionally it is necessary to hear a matter "in camera" i.e. in a closed Court, because of its nature.

I need to instruct an Advocate - can you recommend one please?
We are not permitted to make such recommendations.  For a list of Advocates' firms please see the Guernsey Bar website.

What do I wear when I attend Court?

What is deemed as appropriate court room attire is at the discretion of the presiding judge.

Smart dress is to be worn within the court building and the court rooms.

The following items are inappropriate attire:

  • Shorts
  • Vests/singlets
  • Revealing garments
  • Flip-flops
  • Sunglasses
  • Hats or headwear (unless for religious reasons)
  • Any clothing (for example, T-shirts) which displays either offensive or inappropriate graphics or slogans

Exceptions can be made if an item of clothing is clearly an element of staff uniform; however please be advised this remains at the discretion of the court.

How do I address the Judge?
"Sir" or "Madam" as appropriate. 

I am due to appear in Petty Debt Court, but am unable to attend - what should I do?
If they are unable to attend personally and are not able to instruct an Advocate to appear on your behalf, you should try and seek agreement with the other party to have the matter adjourned to another date. The agreement must be set out in writing, signed by both parties and delivered to the Greffe. If agreement cannot be reached, you may write a letter to the Court, addressed to HM Greffier, setting out the reasons why you cannot attend and ask for an adjournment. You will be required to pay a deferred Court fee of £40.00 and this must be included with your letter. The Court will exercise its discretion as to whether to grant an adjournment, and will take into account the reasons that have been given as to you cannot attend. The reasons must be exceptional. If the Court does not consider the reasons to be appropriate it may enter judgment against you. If the Court considers that there are good reasons it will grant an adjournment, which will normally be for two or three weeks.

You must give a current address where you can be served with the notice of adjournment and the date of the new hearing. Please also include a telephone contact number. A failure to supply the Court fee, an address and contact details might lead to the Court deciding not to adjourn the case.

If you do not appear at a re-arranged time, judgment will be given by default. 

If you are unable to attend due to illness or injury, you must seek the consent of the other side to adjourn to an agreed date. If the parties are unable to come to an agreement a medical certificate must be submitted to the court before the hearing.

If a medical certificate is accepted by the court the matter will be adjourned to a date following the expiry date of the certificate. However, the court is NOT bound to accept a medical certificate and may exercise its discretion to disregard any certificate which it finds unsatisfactory.

Circumstances where a court may find a medical certificate unsatisfactory include:
•     Where the certificate indicates the defendant is unfit for work, rather than to attend court.
•     Where the ailment, such as a broken arm, does not prevent attendance.
•     Where the defendant is suffering from stress/anxiety and there is no indication of the defendant recovering in a realistic timescale.

In the instance of a medical certificate not being acceptable, judgement and costs may be awarded against the defendant.

I am likely to be in Court for some time - can I have something to eat there?
There are no canteen facilities in the Court Complex. Food/hot drinks/chewing gum are not permitted in the waiting areas, public galleries or courts - water is available free of charge on all levels of the Court complex and in the Courtrooms.

I am due in Court but do not have a babysitter - can I bring my child/children with me?
Regrettably we cannot allow children in the Courtrooms nor do we have facilities for their care whilst parents are in Court. The Royal Court cannot accept responsibility for any children left unsupervised in the building whilst their parents attend Court.

I am giving evidence in a criminal matter and I am very nervous - can I bring a friend with me?
Anyone attending Court with you will have to sit in the public gallery.  You can contact the Witness Support Service prior to your appearance and they will talk you through what to expect and can arrange for a member of their team to accompany you in Court.  

My son/daughter/ward is due to appear before the Criminal Court. Can I accompany them?
If your son/daughter/ward is a juvenile then they may have an appropriate adult with them in the dock.

Can you tell me when my son/friend/neighbour is going to appear for trial/sentencing/review?
It is not our policy to inform members of the public of forthcoming hearings either in Criminal or Civil Courts.  In any event, listings can change at short notice and it would be administratively impossible for us to contact individual members of the public to advise them of any changes.

What happens if I or a member of my family is sent to prison?
For more information regarding this please click here.

Frequently Asked Questions concerning DIY applications can be found in the download link on the right hand side of this page