What to expect at a hearing
Who will be at a hearing?
- You and the legal representatives you have instructed (if any).
- The other Parties to the proceedings and their legal representatives (if they have instructed legal representatives).
- The Tribunal Panel. This is the word used to describe the three people who determine your case at the hearing. The three Members are independent and completely impartial. One Member will be a lay person. The other two Members are experienced solicitors who have been qualified for at least 10 years and who actively practise as solicitors with practising certificates. The Panel Chair will be an experienced Solicitor Member who runs the proceedings.
- The clerk to the hearing (an experienced solicitor or barrister qualified for at least 10 years) will give advice on the legal matters and procedure to be followed by the Panel.
- Members of the public and press can also attend hearings and will be allowed to observe if it is being held in public. Tribunal hearings can be in person, remote or hybrid (partially in person and partially remote, for example the Parties attending in person with their legal representatives, but witnesses giving evidence remotely via video link). Members of the public and press are expected to attend hearings remotely via the video link that is provided on the daily Cause Lists.
Hearings usually start at either 9.30 or 10 am. Sitting days can end at different times of day, depending on the needs of the case, but will generally finish between 4 and 5 pm.
Attending a Remote Hearing as a Respondent, Applicant or Witness
You will receive an invitation with joining instructions shortly before the remote hearing.
Please note if you are required to take an oath or to make an affirmation as part of a hearing that you are joining remotely and would like to take an oath using a sacred object, we rely on you providing your own Holy Book or Scripture.
You can also, if you wish, take an oath without a sacred object, if you consider it will still be binding on you. You can still choose to make an affirmation rather than take an oath, as you would in a physical courtroom.
Regardless of how you choose to make this verbal statement of fact, you will be bound legally to tell the truth.
Please refer to the SDT Zoom User Guide for Remote Hearings for further information and the SDT Practice Direction for Remote Hearings.
Support from the Clerking Team
A member of the Tribunal’s Clerking team will be assigned to each Court on sitting days.
This involves both attending the hearing and the Members’ discussions in private. The Clerk plays no part in the Members’ decision-making process on findings of fact, law, sanction, or costs.
The Clerk will:
- Introduce themselves to the Parties before the start of the hearing to ensure that all Parties are ready to begin and that the necessary documents are available.
- Check with the Parties whether there are any preliminary issues or other matters with which the Tribunal needs to consider.
- Introduce the case, ensure that the proceedings are recorded properly and take a note of the hearing. The Clerk will take witnesses to the witness box and ensure the correct oath/affirmation is taken.
- The Clerk will provide legal advice to the Tribunal Panel.
- The Clerk may provide procedural advice to the Parties and/or their advocates.
The Clerk may also take part in active case management of cases, in relation to routine procedural matters such as agreed directions, with appropriate support.
The Clerk’s role is to support, advise and guide Members on points of law and procedure.