Did you know that most courts and tribunals are public, and anyone can go and observe a hearing?
We run an annual programme of court visits and mock trials for law students to observe hearings and become familiar with court procedure.
These involve visiting a court as part of a group, and in some cases meeting with a Judge! We advertise these visits at the start of each term.
All City Law School students have exclusive access to the Law IRL Moodle pages and you can register for a court visit on the Moodle website. Observing hearings is a great way to experience the English legal system in practice and a chance to see advocacy in action.
Attending as part of a group develops students’ confidence in discussing cases and builds their legal literacy and knowledge of the complex jargon used in the legal profession/court room. Plus, it is interesting and fun!
If students are interested in observing hearings by yourself or organising a group visit, there are many local courts and tribunals in the area of Clerkenwell, Westminster and the City of London. Find your local court on the gov.uk website and check first whether the hearings are public.
Court and tribunal hearings in England and Wales usually take place in public, which means you can observe them whether you’re a journalist, academic or member of the public.
This is part of the principle of open justice: judicial proceedings should be conducted in an open, public and transparent manner whenever it is in the interests of justice.
Tips on visiting a court or tribunal
The judge in each case decides how a hearing is held, including whether and how people can observe it. If they think it’s necessary for the proper administration of justice, a judge can decide to hold a hearing in private, with no observers allowed.
You cannot record, broadcast or take photos of any hearing, no matter how you’re observing it. Depending on how the hearing is held, you may be able to observe a hearing:
- In person, from a public gallery
- Remotely, using a video or audio link
Observe a hearing remotely
To check if you can observe a hearing remotely, you’ll need to contact the court or tribunal in advance and provide your full name and email address. If a court or tribunal does not have the appropriate technology or resources, they might suggest observing the hearing in person instead.
At The City Law School we provide law students with the opportunity to visit the Supreme Court in a group with organised tours. Please see our LawIRL Moodle page if you are a current student for further information.
Some courts stream some or all of their hearings online for people to watch:
- Supreme Court live streaming
- Court of Appeal (Civil Division) live streaming
- Competition Appeal Tribunal live streaming
HMCTS publishes public lists of hearings.
Find out about:
- Security procedures when attending a court or tribunal hearing in person
- What to expect when joining a hearing by telephone or video
If law students are interested in setting up court or tribunal visits in a group please contact the CityCLAC Coordinator Ian Shaw, who will be happy to assist and organise, subject to capacity.