In all civil matters you will present your case to a judge, who is an officer of the supreme court. Before trying the case, that judge must have all the available evidence which each party intends to rely upon. That evidence will be many forms, witness statements documents expert evidence etc.
The vast majority of civil cases tried in court do not have a jury (libel and slander trials are some exceptions) and the judge hears them deciding each by finding facts and applying the relevant law to those facts. There may be considerable argument about what is the correct law to be applied and each judge has to be capable of giving reasoned judgment.
Some Judges will play an active role in managing your civil cases once it has started, helping to ensure it progresses quickly and efficiently as possible.
- encouraging the parties to co-operate with each other in the conduct of the case;
- helping the parties to settle the case;
- encouraging the parties to use an alternative dispute resolution procedure if appropriate; and
- controlling the progress of the case.
Occasionally, the parties will have agreed the relevant facts and it will not be necessary for the judge to hear any live evidence. The issues may concern the law to be applied or the terms of the judgment to be given. But more often than not, written and live evidence will be given by the parties and their witnesses and the live witnesses may be cross-examined. The judge ensures that all parties involved are given the opportunity to have their case presented and considered as fully and fairly as possible. During the case the judge will ask questions on any point he or she feels needs clarification. The judge also decides on all matters of procedure which may arise during a hearing.
The courts will appoint the judge dependant upon experience and complexity of the law in the case therefore some quite small value case end up going to the Hight court so as to ensure justice is done.