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Court Etiquette in Brisbane

When a person attends court in Queensland, they should show respect to the court by observing court etiquette. Information about how to behave at court can be found on the Queensland courts website. It can also be helpful to attend court to observe how matters are dealt with and how people are expected to behave. 

Court matters are generally heard in open court, meaning that members of the public may attend and watch the proceedings. In some matters, the court may be closed, meaning that that persons who are not involved, including the media, are not allowed to enter.

Preparing For Court

When going to the Magistrates Court where you are the defendant in a criminal matter, make sure you arrive well before the scheduled time. You should come prepared to be at court all day as criminal matters in the summary courts are often not heard at the time that they are scheduled to be heard and what time they are called on depends on how busy the day’s court list is.

It is important to remember that if the summons says you must be at court at 10am, this means that your matter has been placed in the 10am list. Your matter may not actually be heard until the afternoon.

For this reason, you should take a book to read or something else to do while you are waiting at court. If you have children, make sure there are arrangements for them so they do not have to wait at court with you.

It is a good idea to take a pen and paper to court with you, in case you are required to write down dates or other information as you will be required to have your phone switched off once you are inside the courtroom.

Finding The Courtroom

In the Magistrates Court, you can find the correct courtroom by looking at the notice boards and screens in the court foyer or by asking staff at the registry counter. Adult criminal matters are listed by the defendant’s name.

You should wait outside the court until the name of the matter is called. If you have a matter in the District Court, the bailiff will tell you when it will be heard. If your matter is in the Supreme Court, wait inside the courtroom at the time the matter is due to start.

If you are in custody, corrections or police will bring you to the courtroom when your matter is to be called on.

 As you enter the courtroom, remember to bow your head to the Coat of Arms behind the bench as a sign of respect before sitting down.

Court Etiquette In Brisbane

Some days in the Magistrates Court are very busy. If your matter has not yet been called and you have a lawyer, you should wait in the public seating area until it is called on.

If you are representing yourself, when your matter is called on, you should take a seat on the left side of the bar table. 

  • General Rules Of Court Etiquette in Brisbane

While you are in any court in Brisbane or elsewhere in Queensland make sure that you:

  • turn off your phone;
  • turn off any alarms you may have (watch, phone, tablet or pager);
  • do not talk unless called upon by the magistrate;
  • do not smoke;
  • do not eat, drink or chew gum;
  • take off sunglasses and hat before entering the court;
  • do not record or publish any of the proceeding.

Court Etiquette in Brisbane: The Magistrate Or Judge

The magistrate or judge sits at the bench at the front of the court facing everyone else. Everyone must behave respectfully towards the magistrate or judge. Remember to:

  • call them “Your Honour”;
  • bow your head when entering or exiting the courtroom;
  • stand and keep quiet when they enter or exit the courtroom;
  • stand whenever the magistrate or judge addresses you;
  • listen to and follow any instructions they give.

Dress code

You should dress tidily and conservatively for court. Suitable attire includes:

  • a suit;
  • collared button-up shirt;
  • clean closed shoes;
  • pants or a skirt at or longer than knee level;
  • if you are representing yourself, it is a good idea to wear a jacket.

It is a good general rule that when dressing for court, you should choose clothes that would be suitable for church.

Clothing that is not suitable includes:

  • singlets
  • jeans
  • strapless or see-through tops
  • clothing with offensive or disrespectful images or words
  • short shorts
  • mini skirts
  • thongs
  • sunglasses
  • hats

Leaving The Court

Court etiquette in Queensland requires that, when leaving the courtroom, a person bows again as a sign of respect to the court. 

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.


Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws from Latrobe University, a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the College of Law, a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory. She also practised in family law after moving to Brisbane in 2016.

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