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UK victims

Interactive decision tree

Interactive decision tree

Please use our interactive tool to understand more about the criminal and civil justice systems and how the two systems can interact. It outlines the main steps, and has been specifically created with the individuals and smaller business victim in mind.

Please carefully read about the main differences between the criminal and civil justice systems before using the decision tree.

Civil proceedings


At the trial, you will normally be able to sit in the court itself for the duration. The trial normally opens with the claimant’s and defendant’s respective advocates making opening submissions which set out the issues in the trial.

The claimant will then call those witnesses they rely on. As a victim you will be principal. Your witness statement will stand as your evidence in chief. You will then be cross-examined by the defence, then, if necessary, re-examined by the prosecution. The judge may also ask any relevant questions. The defendant will then call those witnesses they rely on, and the same process will be followed.

There will be closing speeches by both sides and then the judge will give judgment. Often the judge will give judgment immediately, or after a very brief adjournment. In more complex cases, judgment may be reserved until a later date.