Episode 30: 'I swear to tell the whole truth’ - PART 4

Author: Eoghan Colgan @eoghan_colgan
Special Guests: Sheriff Andrew Cubie, Dr David Parratt QC, Moira Orr (Procurator Fiscal)



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Guest Bios


Sheriff Andrew Cubie graduated with a First Class Honours degree from the University of Glasgow. He was a solicitor in private practice in Glasgow from 1987, specialising in civil court work, with emphasis on family law. He was appointed as a Temporary sheriff from 1997-1999. He was admitted as a Solicitor Advocate with rights of audience in the Court of Session in 2001. During his time in private practice he taught civil procedure at Strathclyde University and the Glasgow Graduate School of Law. He devised and taught an in-house course for the Scottish Legal Aid Board.

Sheriff Cubie was appointed as a permanent Sheriff from 2003. Initially an all- Scotland Floating Sheriff, he was a resident Sheriff at Stirling from December 2004 to June 2010 when he moved to be one of the resident Sheriffs at Glasgow Sheriff Court. He has contributed regularly to judicial training and has lectured to, amongst others, local faculties, reporters to the children’s panel and medical professionals. He sits on the council of the Sheriffs’ Association and on the UK Judicial Pensions Committee. He has contributed articles to a number of publications including Scots Law Times, Scottish Criminal Law and Benchmark, the newsletter of the Judiciary of England and Wales. He contributed to MacPhail on Sheriff Court Practice in 2006. InSeptember 2010 his textbook on “Scots Criminal Law” was published.

Dr David Parratt QC


David has a wide ranging practice covering many different aspects of civil law. He is particularly strong in the areas of land law construction, trust work, general commercial work and contract.

He has a keen interest in international commercial arbitration and has practical experience of various forms of alternative dispute resolution including arbitration, adjudication and mediation. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (FCIArb), holds Chartered Status and is a Board Member of the Faculty's Dispute Resolution Service.

He has lectured in Arbitration in the Universities of Dundee, Dubai and Aberdeen and is peer appointed as an arbitrator onto many international panels.

David has prosecuted in the High Court of Justiciary, appeared in Outer House and led as counsel in the Inner House. He has also appeared before the Sheriff Courts, before the sheriffs principal, the Scottish Land Court and the Scottish Lands Tribunal.

David also has rights of audience in other jurisdictions having called to the English Bar (Lincoln's Inn) in 2009 where he is a member of Crown Office Chambers as well as the Bar of Northern Ireland in 2016.

Since 2012, he has held the position of Director of Training and Education, being responsible for the training of intrants on the Faculty's 9 month training programme.

Moira Orr

Procurator Fiscal, Glasgow

Show Notes

This is the fourth in a multi-part series on the interface between healthcare and the legal system. We aim to cover all the main essentials including:

  1. the structure of the legal system

  2. how to provide statements and prepare for court

  3. conduct within court (and what to expect)

We have 3 incredible guests giving expert advice for health professionals called to court.

This episode covers preparation for court, what will happen when you arrive, what to expect inside the court and some recommendations on court behaviour.

Take Home Points

PRior to attending court

  • Dress

    • be ‘smart’ (shirt and tie for men)

  • Contact the court prior to travelling (perhaps the day before)

    • to ensure trial taking place and you are still required

  • Aim to arrive in good time

    • there can be issues parking etc (allow for this)

Arriving at court

  • The building can be quite austere

  • After walking through front door you will have to go through airport-style security (bags checked etc)

    • these can be busy first thing in the morning so allow extra time for this

  • Then approach the reception desk and make yourself known to them

  • You will be shown where witness room is or taken there by a member of staff

    • there are typically separate witnesses rooms for ‘civilian’ and ‘professional’ witness

  • The lawyer will likely come in to witness room to introduce themselves and update you on the timings

  • Witness rooms can be sparse so bring a book or computer

  • You can request to see your notes in the waiting room

    • a copy will be made available unless the current witness is using them (another medical professional)

Entering Court


  • A ‘bar officer’ (Sheriff’s Court) or ‘macer’ (High Court) will show you into the court when you are required to give evidence

    • they can look after your belongings whilst you are giving evidence

  • The room itself is quite intimidating - be prepared for that

    • it is designed to be intimidating

  • You will be shown into the witness box

  • Remain standing and await direction by the Judge

    • you may be given the option to sit

    • if you require to be seated just let the judge know at the beginning

  • They will likely start with the oath or affirmation

    • affirmation is generally chosen by people without religious beliefs but anyone can do so

    • they both have equal significance in law


  • Courts come in various styles

    • high-courts tend to be large, old and austere and imposing

    • sheriff courts tend to be more modern in appearance

  • Witness box tends to face the jury (15 people in Scotland)

  • Judge will be on an elevated bench

    • they wear a gown and wig to represent the solemnity of the occasion

    • a short-bottomed wig with bob-taels at the back

    • In the High Court they wear a Red robe with silky white mantle (with red crosses on it)

    • In some children cases (or civil cases) they are increasingly wearing suits to remove some of the formality

  • The well of the court is the lower part of the room where the legal teams sit around a table

    • prosecution is always to the right of the judge

    • defence teams are to the left

    • in cases with multiple accused, they may each have representatives, so there could be up to about 10 people in the well at one time

    • Solicitors or solicitor advocates (high court) will wear black gowns and no wigs

    • Senior and Junior Counsel (advocates)

      • Male Junior: black gown, tailcoat and waistcoat, with white bow-tie (in scotland)

      • Female Junior: black gown with smart, dark suit

      • Queens Counsel: special silk gown which is different shape and square at the back

        • they wear a ‘fall’ - white material that drapes from the neck

  • The accused will always be present and sat facing the judge, typically between a security team

  • All courts are open to the public and press

    • the number of people depends on the nature of and notoriety of the case

  • You are playing just a little piece of a big jigsaw

    • you will not be told why you are there or any background to your testimony

How to speak in court

  • Addressing a Judge:

    • In a Sheriff and High Court:

      • A male judge is addressed as ‘My Lord’, and a female judge as ‘My Lady’

    • In a Justice of the Peace Court - it is ‘Your Honour’

  • Your evidence will be taken from you in three ways:

    • Evidence in Chief: the team that brought you to court will ask you questions first (typically the prosecution)

    • Cross-Examination: your evidence will be tested by the opposing legal team (typically the defence)

      • tested for reliability (how much you can remember) and credibility (are you telling the truth)

    • Re-Examination: first person has a chance to clarify anything that arose in the cross-examination

  • Responding to questions:

    • During evidence in Chief it might be appropriate to answer the person asking the questions but be aware of the decision-makers (the judge and jury).

      • Think of it like a triangle.

      • You can make some glances towards them

    • During Cross-examination it may be better to answer to the judge or jury

    • Address the Judge specifically if they ask you a question or if you do not understand a question or do not feel comfortable answering a question

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