Call Our National Legal Hotline

1300 038 223
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 days
Or have our lawyers call you:

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom - Content Editor - Brisbane

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

Court Etiquette (NSW)

Following court etiquette is important when attending court in New South Wales as it displays respect for the courts and the legal system and shows you are taking your matter seriously. The rules of etiquette must be followed by all persons who attend the court including those who are not involved in the proceedings. If court etiquette is not followed, the judicial officers may order a person to leave the court or, in more serious cases, the person may even be charged with contempt of court.

You can ensure that you are well prepared to attend court and are clear on the rules of court etiquette by getting to know the court system prior to your court date. You can familiarise yourself with the New South Wales Court website, or by attending and watching similar court proceedings before your matter is due to be heard.

Open court

If you are attending a court proceeding that you are not involved in, you should sit in the public seating area in the back and refrain from interrupting the proceeding. Most proceedings are held in open court, meaning the public and the media can attend. If a matter is being heard in closed court, members of the public and those who are not involved in the matter must leave the courtroom.

Court Etiquette and Punctuality

When attending court for your matter, arrive early to allow enough time to check for any changes and to find the right courtroom. You can do this by checking the court list displayed on screens in the court foyer.

In the Local Court, matters are generally placed in a list, which is due to start at a particular time, for example, 10 am. If your matter has been listed for 10 am, this does not mean it will necessarily be called on at 10 am. It means only that it is in the 10 am list.

You should come to court prepared to be there for most of the day. Take a book or something else to do and if you have children, make arrangements for them so that they do not have to wait around with you.

General behaviour

Court etiquette requires persons to bow to the Coat of Arms behind the judge or magistrate when you enter and exit a courtroom in New South Wales as a sign of respect to the legal system.

You must always behave in an orderly and respectful manner when in a courtroom. You should wait in the public seating area at the back of the courtroom until your matter is called.

In courtrooms in New South Wales, the following rules of etiquette should be observed:

  • Turn of mobile devices;
  • Do not speak unless instructed by the judicial officer;
  • Do not eat or drink;
  • Remove hats or sunglasses from your head;
  • Do not record or publish any of the proceeding, including posts on social media.

The judge or magistrates sits at the front of the court facing the rest of the courtroom and manages the proceedings. Everyone in court must behave respectfully towards the judge or magistrate by:

  • addressing them as ‘Your Honour’;
  • bowing when entering or exiting the courtroom;
  • standing silently whenever they enter or exit the courtroom;
  • standing any time the judicial officer speaks to them;
  • listening to and following any instructions given by the judge or magistrate.

Court etiquette and Dress code

Court etiquette in NSW requires that you wear clothes that are neat, clean and conservative in the courtroom. This shows respect and demonstrates that you are putting in your best effort and taking the matter seriously.

You should dress in:

  • subtle or dark colours;
  • long trousers and long-sleeved shirts;
  • skirts that are knee-length or longer, dress pants or dresses;
  • clean closed shoes;

You should not dress in:

  • bright colours;
  • singlets or strapless tops;
  • clothing with slogans or graphics, especially provocative ones;
  • denim;
  • skirts or shorts that are above knee length;
  • thongs.


It is important to observe court etiquette when attending court in New South Wales as this reflect well on you and places you in a better position to achieve a good outcome in your court matter. It is also important because more serious breaches of court etiquette, such as swearing in court or deliberately disobeying an instruction from the judge or magistrate, can result in a criminal charge such as contempt of court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal. 


If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.


Armstrong Legal
Social Rating
Based on 349 reviews
Legal Hotline
Open 7am - Midnight, 7 Days
Call 1300 038 223