What to do if you are too ill to attend court
Many people face very lengthy court proceedings, and it is therefore hardly unusual that on occasion a person may not be too ill to attend court.
Despite this fact, courts are sceptical of alleged illness. Unless the rules are followed in close detail, a defendant who does not attend faces the serious prospect of being arrested by the police and taken to court in custody. This may involve a stay in police cells over the weekend, so it is essential that you understand what you need to do.
Too ill to attend court? Let us know straight away.
The first step is to inform your solicitor as soon as you are able.
All of our office numbers can be called at any hour of the day or night. This will allow you to contact us before the office opens so that you can inform us what is happening.
In almost all cases, if you do not need to see a doctor, the court is unlikely to accept your illness as an excuse not to attend court.
It will, of course, depend on the exact circumstances. As a result it is essential to speak to us and obtain advice as to what is the best course of action.
A doctor will be able to issue you with a sick note. This is not, however, necessarily the end of the matter, and the opinion of a doctor does not bind a court.
Doctors have been issued with guidance concerning medical notes for court non-attendance, but a busy practitioner may very well miss the detail.
The Criminal Practice Direction sets out the following minimum requirements:
- The date on which the medical practitioner examined you;
- The exact nature of your ailments;
- If it is not self-evident, why the ailment prevents you attending court;
- An indication as to when you are likely to be able to attend court, or a date when the current certificate expires.
Circumstances where the court may find a medical certificate unsatisfactory include:
- Where the certificate indicates that the defendant is unfit to attend work (rather than to attend court);
- Where the nature of the defendant’s ailment (e.g. a broken arm) does not appear to be capable of preventing his attendance at court;
- Where the defendant is certified as suffering from stress/anxiety/depression and there is no indication of the defendant recovering within a realistic timescale.
Contact your criminal law solicitor
You will have information from us about who your solicitor is. All of our office numbers will be answered out of hours to deal with emergencies like this.