Possession hearing - what to expect at court

Watch a Directgov video about going to court for a repossession hearing and get advice that may help you avoid your home being repossessed.

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Narrator: If you are a defendant in a possession claim it is very important that you seek help and advice immediately from a legal adviser or an advice agency. You are allowed to take an adviser or legal representative with you to the hearing.

Defendant: My name is Mrs Jones. I’m here for a court hearing this afternoon.

Usher: Oh yes. What time please?

Narrator: Even if you haven’t managed to get legal advice, it is still crucially important for you to attend the court hearing on the date specified. Attending the hearing means that you can tell the judge what has led to your being in this position and any circumstances that the judge ought to be aware of. You can explain why you think you ought to be able to keep your home or remain in the property. If you do not attend the hearing, you are highly likely to lose your home.

It is never too late to try to reach an agreement on payment of arrears with the claimant’s representative. You can speak to the representative outside the courtroom just before the hearing. If you do reach an agreement you should let the court know.

Possession hearings usually take place in judge’s chambers – which may look like a general office or meeting room.  It is still nevertheless a court of law and a Judge will conduct the proceedings. The judge will normally be dressed in a business suit and should be addressed as Sir or Madam.

Judge: First I will ask the claimant to speak, setting out any reasons and evidence to support their case.

Narrator: The hearing is normally recorded using a tape recorder. The judge may explain how he or she intends to conduct the hearing. All parties at the hearing will be expected to behave courteously and not interrupt when the Judge or the other party speaks. If you are unrepresented and do not understand any aspect of the hearing you can politely ask the judge to explain it to you.

The claimant’s representative will normally explain why they think a possession order should be granted in their favour.

Claimant’s representative: Sir, the defendant has consistently (his voice fades out).

Narrator: The judge will then give you an opportunity to explain what has happened and any reason why the possession order should not be granted. By attending the hearing, you can explain why you think you ought to be able to keep your home or remain in the property.

Defendant: Sir, as you can see my income dropped significantly. (Her voice fades out).

Narrator: You can provide the judge with information on your personal and financial circumstances and show evidence that may include copies of bank statements, tenancy or mortgage agreements, details of debt or any other evidence relating to your case. If you don’t understand anything in the hearing, you should politely ask the judge to explain it to you.

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