3. Learn how to behave in court

Before you go to court:

  • Wear clothes that are suitable. For example, don’t wear clothes with inappropriate language or images.
  • Bring all the documents you need.
  • Plan to be at the courthouse at least 15 minutes before your hearing. This gives you enough time to go through security and find your courtroom.
  • Be prepared for a possible security search at the courthouse.

When you are in the courtroom:

  • Don’t bring any food or drink in the courtroom. Only water is allowed in the courtroom.
  • Don’t chew gum.
  • Remove your hat.
  • Turn off cell phones or other electronic devices.
  • You must stand when the judge enters or leaves the courtroom. You should also stand when you are speaking to the judge.
  • When you speak to the judge, say “your Honour”.
  • Always speak directly to the judge, not to the , except when you are examining a witness.
  • You may take notes during court so that you can properly respond to any issues that are raised.
  • Do not interrupt when the judge is speaking.
  • Do not interrupt when another person is speaking unless you want to object to an inappropriate question during the examination of a witness.
  • Only one person is allowed to speak at a time.
  • If you are having trouble hearing the judge or anyone else, you should let the judge know.
  • Any documents you wish to give to the judge must be handed to the Court Registrar.

Go to court early so that you have time to find the right courtroom.

The day’s list of cases is usually posted on a board near the entrance to the court or outside the courtroom. If you have trouble finding it, ask for help at the court counter.

Before you see the judge, talk to duty counsel if they are available. Pro Bono Ontario provides lawyers known as duty counsel at Small Claims Courts in Toronto and Ottawa to give immediate legal help and advice to low-income people who appear in court without a lawyer. They can’t help with your entire case, but they may be able to represent you or help you on your court day.

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