Court Etiquette (Vic)
When going to court for any matter, it is important to observe court etiquette. When in court, all attendees are expected to show respect to the court system and to the magistrate or judge. You may be asked to leave the courtroom if you do not follow the rules of court etiquette. This article outlines the rules of court etiquette in VIctoria.
Court Etiquette and Punctuality
The first rule of court etiquette is to be on time. To ensure you are on time, you should check the date, time and location where your court matter is to be heard on the Victorian Courts website or on your summons or adjournment slip. You should arrive at court well before the time that your matter is listed so you have enough time to find the courtroom and are prepared for any changes.
Court matters are generally placed in a court list, which may be scheduled to start at a particular time – for example, 9 am. If your matter is listed at 9 am, this does not mean that it will necessarily be dealt with at 9 am. It means only that it may be called on at any time from 9 am on. If there is a long court list, you may be required to wait at court for a number of hours so come prepared to be at court all day.
Court matters in Victoria are generally held in open court. This means that the court is open to the public and to the media. Court etiquette permits members of the public to attend an open hearing to get familiar with the court process. If you attend a matter you are not involved in, you should sit in the gallery at the back of the courtroom.
If a matter is particularly sensitive or involves children, the court may be closed. This means that anyone who is not involved in the matter will be asked to leave the courtroom.
Prior to attending, you can look at the daily listings of which court hearings are open to the public on the Victorian Courts website or ask the registry staff at the courts.
Court Etiquette and Dress code
Court etiquette requires you to dress smartly. Rules of court etiquette in Victoria suggest that appropriate wear for court includes:
- conservative coloured clothing (dark colours and white);
- business wear (though this is not essential);
- collared button-up shirt that is buttoned modestly;
- long pants or a skirt of knee-length or longer;
- clean shoes with closed toes.
If you have to go to court and do not have a lawyer, you should wear a jacket if possible.
Court etiquette requires persons to behave respectfully at all times when in the courtroom. This means:
- sitting quietly unless called upon to speak by the magistrate or judge;
- turning off any mobile devices;
- removing hats or sunglasses from your head;
- refraining from eating or drinking;
- refraining from recording or publishing any part of the proceeding, including posts on social media.
The judicial officer (judge or magistrate) directs the processes in the court and sits at the front of the courtroom. There is a strict code as to how to behave towards the magistrate or judge when in a courtroom.
- address the magistrate or judge as ‘Your Honour’;
- nod or bow to the magistrate or judge when entering or exiting the court;
- stand silently whenever the magistrate or judge enters or exits the court;
- stand whenever the magistrate or judge addresses you;
- listen to and follow any directions the magistrate or judge gives you.
If you or someone else who is involved in a court proceeding requires an interpreter, be sure to let the court staff know this as soon as possible so that it can be arranged for an interpreter to attend.
Further assistance at court
If you are a witness, you may seek support from Victims and Witness Support Services, which can provide you with information about the legal processes involved and what to expect when giving evidence. which
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal.