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Court Etiquette in NSW

Updated on Dec 12, 2022 4 min read 831 views Copy Link

Michelle Makela

Published in Apr 29, 2016 Updated on Dec 12, 2022 4 min read 831 views

Court Etiquette in NSW

When a person attend court in New South Wales, they should be mindful of court etiquette. Court etiquette includes punctuality, dress code and being polite when inside a courtroom. It is important to observe court etiquette to show that you are taking the matter seriously and to demonstrate respect for the court system. 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 be charged with contempt of court.

Before you attend court

You can ensure that you are well prepared for your court proceeding and clear on the rules of court etiquette by getting to know the court system prior to attending court. You can familiarise yourself by reading the New South Wales Court website, which explains what to expect at court and appropriate court etiquette in NSW, or by attending and watching a similar court proceeding sometime before yours is due to be heard.

If you are attending and watching a court proceeding, you should sit in the public seating area in the back of the courtroom without interrupting the proceeding. Most proceedings are open to the public apart from those involving family matters and Children’s Court matters.

When attending your proceeding, arrive early to allow enough time to check for any changes to your court proceeding and to find where you need to go. You can find the correct courtroom by checking the printed court list displayed in the foyer. Court officers may also assist you with finding the correct courtroom and with questions on rules and procedures in the courtroom.

Entering and exiting the courtroom

It is customary to bow your head at the Coat of Arms behind the judges before entering and exiting the courtrooms in NSW as a sign of respect to the legal system.

Etiquette in the courtroom

You must behave in an orderly and respectful manner when you are in the courtroom. You also need to maintain an appropriate standard of behaviour and dress. You should wait in the public seating area located in the back of the courtroom until your matter is called.

In the courtroom in New South Wales, the following rules of etiquette should be maintained:

  • Turn of all mobile and electronic devices
  • Do not speak unless instructed by the judicial officer
  • Do not eat, drink or smoke
  • Do not record or publish any of the proceeding, including by posting details on social media.

Court etiquette towards the judicial officers

The judicial officer sits at the front facing the rest of the courtroom and manages the proceedings.  Everyone in the courtroom must behave respectfully towards the judicial officer by:

  • addressing them as ‘Your Honour’
  • bowing their head at the judicial officer when entering or exiting the courtroom
  • standing silently whenever the judicial officer enters or exits the courtroom
  • standing any time the judicial officer speaks to them
  • listening to and following any instructions given by the judicial officer.

Dress etiquette

Court etiquette in NSW requires that you wear clothes that are conservative and clean in the courtroom. This not only shows respect but demonstrates to the court that you are putting in your best effort and taking the matter seriously, especially when self-representing.

You should dress in:

  • subtle or conservative colours
  • long trousers and a long sleeved shirt for men
  • below knee-length skirts, dress pants or dresses for women
  • clean closed-in shoes

You should not dress in:

  • bright colours
  • singlets or strapless tops
  • transparent tops
  • clothing with provocative slogans or graphics
  • denim
  • skirts or shorts that are above knee length
  • thongs
  • sunglasses
  • hats or caps.

Getting help about court etiquette in NSW

If you need further information on procedures of court or court etiquette in NSW, you can contact LawAccess NSW.

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

Published in

Apr 29, 2016

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 
Michelle Makela

Michelle Makela

National Practice Manager

Michelle Makela is a Legal Practice Director at Go To Court Lawyers. She holds a Juris Doctor, a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) and a Master of Criminology. She was admitted to practice in 2006. Michelle has over 15 years experience in the legal industry, working across commercial litigation, criminal law, family law and estate planning. 

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