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Court Etiquette in the Federal Courts

Published in Nov 04, 2016 Updated on Sep 29, 2023 4 min read 787 views

Federal Court Etiquette

The High Court of Australia, the Federal Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia sit in all the capital cities of Australia. Anyone who attends the federal courts will need to observe court etiquette to demonstrate that they are respecting the seriousness of the matter and the formalities of the federal legal system. If a person does not show an adequate level of respect while in court, the judicial officers may ask them to leave. In extreme cases, they may be charged with contempt of the court. This article outlines court etiquette in the federal courts.

What to expect in the Federal Courts

To ensure you know what to expect in the Federal Courts, you should get to know the court system before attending court for your legal matter as the system can be confusing for first-timers. You can familiarise yourself with the courts by reading information about the Federal Courts.

You can also attend and observe a court hearing before your own matter to understand the general process of a court hearing. When observing a hearing, sit quietly in the public gallery at the back. To check the date, time and location of a court proceeding, you can search the online daily lists. Do note that some court matters will not be open to the public to observe.

Dress etiquette in the Federal Courts

In the Federal Courts, you should dress in a tidy and conservative style to demonstrate respect for the court system. If you are dressed inappropriately, the judicial officers may ask you to leave.

Examples of appropriate dress style for the Federal Courts are as follows:

  • Subtle coloured clothing such as white and dark colours;
  • Collared button up shirt, ensuring that it is buttoned to an appropriate point;
  • Pants or a skirt that sit at or below knee level; and
  • Clean closed in shoes.

Dress style that is inappropriate includes the following:

  • Sleeveless and see-through tops;
  • Clothing with offensive slogans or graphics;
  • Denim;
  • Pants or skirts that sit above knee level;
  • Thongs;
  • Sunglasses; or
  • Hats or caps.

Entering the court

You should arrive early to court to allow enough time to check the time and location of your court hearing and to allow for any last-minute changes. You can check the time and location of your hearing prior to attending by checking the online daily lists. You can also check inside the court by looking at the daily lists located in the foyer or outside the courtrooms.

It is important to be aware that your matter may not be heard at the time it is listed at. You should come to court prepared to be there for a number of hours.

Prior to entering the courtroom for your hearing, you should stop at the doorway and bow your head at the Coat of Arms behind the judicial officers as a show of respect prior to finding your seat.

The Sheriff’s Officer will bring you to the correct courtroom if you are being held in custody.

Etiquette during the court hearing

During the Federal Court hearing, you will need to maintain the appropriate standard of behaviour and dress. You should also wait silently in the public gallery in the back until the judicial officer calls upon your matter.

When you are in the courtroom, you should ensure that you do the following:

  • Switch off all electronic devices;
  • Address the judicial officer as ‘Your Honour’;
  • Stand whenever the judicial officer calls upon you;
  • Bow your head and stand whenever the judicial officer enters or leaves the room; and
  • Follow all of the judicial officer’s directions.

You should not do any of the following:

  • Speak, unless you are called upon by the judicial officer;
  • Eat, drink or chew gum; or
  • Record or publish any of the proceeding.

Leaving the court

Just as you did when entering, it is proper etiquette in the Federal Courts to bow your head at the Coat of Arms behind the judicial officers when leaving the court.

Further Assistance

If you still have queries about court etiquette, you can ask court staff at the Federal Courts.

If you need further legal advice, call Go To Court Lawyers on 1300 636 846.

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