Do you have a trial date for your family law matter? Do you know what you have to do at your court hearing? Do you know what questions may be asked of you?

If you or someone you know is a witness in an upcoming court hearing, you may want to do a test run of a typical day in court.

Layout of the Family Court

Lawyers Weekly[1] recently suggested that a ‘practice day’ in courts may be beneficial for some clients to feel comfortable in the court process. The idea would involve running through the processes of the court with the client and going through the sort of questions the client might be asked.

Whilst it may sound like a good idea, are lawyers ethically permitted to facilitate a ‘practice day’ for clients?

All Australian lawyers must abide by a set of rules. The rules prohibit lawyers from coaching witnesses. However, lawyers can assist a witness prepare and familiarise themselves with their material before trial and the location where it is to happen.

Lawyers must walk a very thin line between witness coaching and witness or client familiarisation. So, what is the difference?

Witness coaching is advising you of the answer to particular questions or suggesting what words to use in your answer. We can only advise you that your answer be the truth.

If we cannot help you with your answers, what can we assist you with?

  • We can advise you to refresh your memory by reading your court documents;
  • We can identify points in the material which questions may be asked of you;
  • We can direct you to points in your evidence which may appear contradictory;
  • We can provide you with an outline of the court procedure; and
  • We can advise you about the manner you in which you should answer questions in.

A ‘practice day’ prior to court is beneficial to assist you in understanding the court processes and making you feel as comfortable as we possibly can in your role as a witness.

Whilst the idea of giving evidence in court may seem unpleasant, just remember it will be over soon.

If you need advice in relation to a family law matter, including litigation, please contact Rowan Skinner & Associates Lawyers to arrange a complimentary 15-minute consultation. We are LIV Accredited Family Lawyers In Melbourne’s CBD.

 

[1] https://www.lawyersweekly.com.au/biglaw/29207-should-you-give-your-clients-a-practice-day-for-court