What to do and say in court

Some tips on Court Etiquette and what to do whether or not you have a lawyer…..

Arrive on time.

  • Do not be late to court. It is disrespectful to the court and will cause the matter to be delayed unnecessarily, wasting valuable time and resources.
  • Make sure you arrive before and not atthe time the matter is to be heard. Aim to arrive at court at least 15 minutes early.
  • If you think you are going to be late, call your solicitor and tell them as soon as possible. They will then be able to notify the Court.  If you don’t have a solicitor ring the court if you can before the start time to advise you are running late.
  • Make sure to you allow for possible delays in reaching court. If you are driving, traffic congestion and traffic accidents are common in causing delays. Leave the house early and make other arrangements for any children to be taken to school.
  • If you are taking public transport you must allow for service delays or services being cancelled. Catch an earlier service to be on the safe side.
  • Remember that if your case is called and you are not in Court, the Judge can make orders in your absence as if you did not wish to defend it.

Clean and neat appearance.

  • Make sure you are clean and neat in your appearance and grooming. This goes without saying   Apart from being respectful to the Court first impressions may count in a number of ways.
  • There is no need to wear a three piece suit or anything fancy.  Just neat business wear or dress up casual wear should be fine.
  • Wear something which you are comfortable in and can sit and stand in for long periods of time. Court proceedings can move slowly.

Dress appropriately.

  • Court is a formal and conservative environment. Dress accordingly; wear clothing suitable for business.
  • Remove your sunglasses or hat upon entering the court.

Mobile phones and electronic devices.

  • Switch your phones and electronic devices off completely or to silent mode before entering the courtroom.
  • Double check that you have done so once you have entered the courtroom.
  • Remember vibrations can be audible and annoying.

No chewing, eating or drinking

  • Do not chew gum or eat or drink in the courtroom.
  • Do not bring any food or drink into the courtroom.

Children

  • Children under the age of 18 are not permitted in the courtroom.
  • Make other arrangements for their care prior to the day of the proceeding.

Be discreet when entering the courtroom.

  • Enter the courtroom as quietly and discreetly as possible. The judge does not want to be disturbed by unnecessary noise or distraction.
  • All activity in the courtroom is recorded including video and audio; therefore you should be very careful about what you say and how you behave.

Bow respectfully upon entering or leaving

  • If the judge is in the courtroom when you enter, stop and bow respectfully to the judge from the doorway of the court before entering and taking a seat.
  • If the judge is in the courtroom, also repeat the above just at the doorway before leaving.

General behaviour.

  • Restrict your conversations to only those necessary. Keep them short, quiet and discreet.
  • Do not laugh, comment, gesture or otherwise make a scene or spectacle of yourself; stay restrained.

The judge is the main focal point.

  • Upon the judge entering or leaving the courtroom, stand and remain silent, until the judge takes their seat.
  • You may take a seat or leave but only once the judge takes their seat or leaves.
  • Bow to the judge and do not sit down or leave until the judge takes their place.

Remain respectful and courteous to the judge and the other party at all times.

  • Do not react with disruptive behaviour such as swearing, commenting, gesturing, laughing or otherwise.
  • Any overtly disruptive or rude behaviour is disrespectful and may be deemed to be in contempt by the Judge.

Remain polite and civil at all times.

  • The judge can see and hear everything in the courtroom.
  • Speech and body language must be discreet and respectful at all times.

Do not distract your solicitor.  

  • Work out what you have to say to your solicitor prior the matter being before the court.
  • Your solicitor will request to seek instructions from you if they have any questions for you during the proceedings.
  • Do not tap on their back and start talking to them when they are standing and giving submissions to the Judge; wait for them to finish and turn around to you if you must speak to them.
  • If you have a lot to say to your solicitor before the hearing, consider having a meeting a day or two before so the strategy and what to expect can be discussed in private.

Make early arrangements if you are fearful of the other party and need support or a secure room.

  • If you are concerned for your safety or fear the other party being around you at the Court premises, contact the Court a least a week before the hearing to request either a secure room, for security to be aware, or for you to sit with the network people for support if that is what you prefer.
  • If you have a solicitor bring this to their attention first as they may be able to arrange a secure room or other arrangements for you to meet your solicitor before court so you can enter the Court building together.

 

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