1 Seeking advice before going to court
When an individual has a potential legal problem or query they may try to find out the answer themselves through books or online material and information. They may also seek legal advice from an expert or try and resolve it amicably by some form of negotiation or arbitration. An individual can also make an appointment to see a solicitor or solicitor-advocate for advice on legal matters or visit their local Citizens Advice Bureau, Welfare Rights Office or Law Centre for advice. Charities and trade unions also give specialist legal advice, the charity Shelter, for example, will give advice on homelessness issues. Individuals can also represent themselves in court if they wish (as a litigant in person if they are a pursuer or as a defendant if they are defending a case). New court processes such as the Simple Procedure are designed to provide speedy, inexpensive and informal ways to resolve claims (for example, the Simple Procedure designed for claims up a maximum monetary value, currently £5,000) without the need for solicitors. Through these routes many legal problems or queries can be solved.
Ultimately if a legal problem or dispute cannot be resolved it will be heard in a court room. As you explored in Activity 1 of Week 1 there are many different images and perceptions of what a court room looks like and what role the individuals in the court room play. In the next two activities you will find out more about who works in a traditional court room and what they do.