The Ministry of Justice’s Witness Intermediary Scheme only takes referrals for witnesses in the criminal court. This leaves a gap for people with communication difficulties who are defendants in the criminal court or respondents in the family courts. Communicourt fills that gap. Our intermediaries are communication specialists, who work with vulnerable people to help them understand the legal processes they are going through. We recruit our intermediaries from a range of professional disciplines, including speech and language therapy and psychology.
All of our intermediaries carry out significant training and continuing professional development for this specialised role. Our role is impartial, and our duty is to the court. We receive referrals directly from solicitors, and funding from Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) for all family court and criminal trials, and the Legal Aid Agency for criminal assessments.
Our intermediaries are appointed by the court to facilitate communication with a vulnerable person. This includes carrying out detailed assessments to understand any provisions or adaptations that can be made to help the vulnerable person participate in the proceedings.
In addition to understanding evidence in live court, these vulnerable people may also need help to understand the weight of the evidence, the inference which may be drawn, understand the complexities of threshold or a plea bargain, and be able to instruct their legal team accordingly.
Any recommendations are made to guide and assist the court in communicating with the vulnerable person in the context of the case, to ensure that they are able to effectively participate.