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How do we carry out our work?

District judges discuss daily aspects of their work including how they dress and the offices they use.

Transcript of video

“People think that we sit there in gowns and wigs, and we don’t; we sit there in normal dark suits usually. I have a very small room, a very cosy room where I sit just across the table from people. I start off by doing rather mundane pieces of paper work before my list which then starts at 10, and then it just depends what’s on the list as to who I see during the day. It could be one long case which goes over a number of days, or it could be lots of very short appointments, sometimes two or three minutes each. So it’s a little bit like being a G.P. except you’ll always have two people instead of just one.”

“Well first of all I read the papers; there’s always a lot of material in paper in every case. You read the claim forms, there may be statements from the parties, there may be reports from experts, so you need to assimilate that information first. Then you hear any oral evidence and the oral representations of the parties; you apply the law to the factual bases and then you make your decision.”

“I make my decisions essentially on the evidence that I hear and applying the law that may be relevant in the particular type of case, to that evidence. So unlike a criminal court where there is a jury, I have to make the decisions myself; there’s nobody else to make the decisions for me and I have to do that by listening to the evidence that’s put in front of me and having to make a decision on first of all the facts of the particular case, if that’s what’s involved, like a road traffic case, and then applying, as I say, the law where that’s relevant.”

“A lot of cases, perhaps the majority of cases are heard in rooms like this – it’s really just a glorified office. It’s technically known as a ‘private hearing room’, and I’m in civilian clothes. Particularly cases which are private cases, although members of the media are now allowed in, that’s to say cases involving disputes between husbands and wives and disputes about children, and also disputes about housing, but the bigger cases are dealt with in a conventional court room when I will be robed but no longer do I wear a wig, but this is a room which I think surprises a lot of people when they come in. They’re expecting the big court room and I think it’s useful, a room such as this, because the environment is less intimidating and the one thing we try and do is to put the parties at ease.”