Waiting Room Etiquette

When you arrive at the tribunal, it’s normal to introduce yourself to the other side. Often there is something specific to discuss – last minute negotiations, late evidence, a postponement request or similar. Even if there is not, it is sensible to check in with them, if only because they may have something specific to deal with.

If you don’t know the other side’s representative, the standard approach is to put your head round the door of the Respondent’s waiting room and say, in a carrying tone, ‘Is there anyone here for Smith v Hogan?’

It’s best to use both parties’ names. It gives your opponent two chances to recognise the case and, if you (or your opponent) has got the pronunciation of one name wrong, they should recognise the other one. This sounds a bit silly, but bear in mind that your opponent may be busy reading something in the bundle, on the phone to their solicitor, or otherwise distracted.

If your opponent is there, she should stand up and introduce herself. When both sides are represented, the representatives will then normally step outside the waiting room to talk.

Quite often, a represented party will have arrived before their lawyer. In general, you shouldn’t go into the detail of a case with a represented party. It’s perfectly all right to say something like: ‘We’ll be wanting to rely on a few additional documents – here are copies for you. Perhaps you could ask your lawyer to come speak to me about this when he arrives?’ But a detailed discussion of the case or negotiations should wait for the lawyer to arrive.

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