There are different names for court dates, depending on what stage of the process you are at.
Plea Hearing - this will be your first appearance in court and solicitors normally call it a ‘First Hearing’. This is where you have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty this will be the only court date you need to attend.
Trial - if you are pleading not guilty and have attended your plea hearing then you will have been given a trial date.
All the magistrates’ courts currently used by XR defendants – City of London, Westminster, Hendon and Camberwell – are in south London, at least as far as the Courts Service is concerned. Listings at all these courts are dealt with centrally, and the email address is:
If you need to change your hearing date, send an email to the above address with your date and court in the subject line, indicate your name and explain that it is a first hearing, and also why you have to ask for another date. Let them know which other dates are also inconvenient for you and why
All first (plea) hearings are currently being held on Fridays (Autumn 2019) and you can indicate a preference for morning or afternoon – a request to change a first hearing date will not usually be refused. In addition it might be possible for a trial to be moved to your local court, however, this happens rarely and if at all, has been at the last minute, only a few days ahead of the trial date. If you are found not guilty or the case is dropped against you then you can submit travel receipts to the courts and you’ll be refunded.
We don’t advise just not turning up to your first hearing, but if you do the district judge can order one of three actions:
1. set a new hearing date, probably the next Friday, and notify you of it,
2. assume you want to plead not guilty and set a trial date, and notify you of it,
3. assume you want to plead not guilty and try you in your absence, which will be a very quick process.
Changing trial dates is more difficult for the courts and there are very few examples of where this has been granted. They will need a good reason, like personal or family illness. Being abroad, either on holiday or because you are a non UK resident isn’t always accepted. In the past, a solicitor has been able to represent their non UK resident client in their absence - but this was pre-negotiated between the solicitor and the court in advance.
XR Legal Support attends the Friday plea hearings so if an emergency crops up a day or two before your hearing, email us at email@example.com or post a Signal message, and we’ll speak to the court usher.
If you don’t turn up for your trial (again, we don’t advise it) then you will be tried in your absence. Obviously you’ll be found guilty but will not have made a statement to the court, and they will come after you for full prosecution costs as though the trial had taken place.
XR Legal Support