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Filming and Photography in Court

As digital photography and taking photos and videos on smartphones is becoming more common, it is often necessary to remind clients that filming and using photography in court precincts is generally not allowed. Unless you have express permission from the court, you are not allowed to use film or take photographs. This applies to the Magistrates, Children’s, Supreme and County Courts and includes the areas outside the actual courtrooms, such as the foyer. If you take photos or videos in court or in any of the surrounding areas, you may be charged with a criminal offence.

Most court proceedings are held in open court. This means that members of the public can sit in court and listen. However. Whenever you are in court, you are required to observe court etiquette. This includes turning off your phone.

Offences relating to photography in court

Section 4A of the Court Security Act 1980 makes it an offence to film court proceedings without the court’s permission. This offence can attract a fine of up to 20 penalty units.

Section 4B of the act makes it an offence to publish a recording of a court proceeding without written permission from a judicial officer. This offence can attract a fine of up to 20 penalty units.

Section 4D of the act makes it an offence to give or transmit a recording of a court proceeding to another person without permission. This is punishable by a fine of up to 20 penalty units.

It is also a common law offence known as contempt in the face of the court to disrupt or obstruct court proceedings. Continuing to film or use photography in court after being told not to do so could lead to being charged with of contempt in the face of the court, which may attract a fine or a term of imprisonment.

Supreme Court

If you are caught using a camera within the Supreme Court precinct, you will be required to stop doing so and to show the court officer the film or photo you took and delete it.

Photography is permitted in the Supreme Court courtyard before and after admission ceremonies and inside the Supreme Court library. Photographs for commercial purposes can be made with the permission of the CEO’s office.

The Supreme Court states that the media may film and photograph people in public places during the course of reporting on court proceedings. However, people must be allowed to enter and leave the courts without being harassed or intimidated by the media or others.

The presiding judge may allow the use of still photography within the Supreme Court where it is appropriate, with the permission of any person who is proposed to be photographed.

Permission for filming in the Supreme Court will be given only after the Chief Justice has been consulted and the media team has been notified.

The Supreme Court generally allows sketch artists to be present in the courtroom to sketch the defendant and witnesses. This reduces the need for photography in court and is a long tradition.

County Court

In the County Court, filming of a judge giving the reasons for their decision may occur only with permission from the presiding judge in advance. Judges must not be filmed entering the court or leaving the court.

Journalists may request permission that a court artist be present in the County Court to sketch the defendant or witnesses.

Magistrates Court

Photography and filming are prohibited in the Magistrates Court unless you have written permission of the court. The media is also required to refrain from taking photos or videos without authorisation.

Children’s Court

Photographs and filming or recoridng is not allowed in the Children’s Court without the permission of the presiding magistrate. If these rules are not followed you may be asked to leave the court and your device may be confiscated.


Aside from offences relating to photography and filming in court, there are numerous of offences relating to the unauthorised publication of material relating to Children’s Court proceedings.

Section 523 of the Children, Youth and Families Act makes it an offence to publish any image or account of Children’s Court proceedings that would lead to any person involved being identified or to a child who is subject to a Children’s Court order being identified.

Section 534 of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 prohibits the publication of any image of a child or other party to a proceeding.

If you require legal advice or representation in a criminal law matter or in any other legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal. 

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

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.

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