A certain etiquette in the Northern Territory (NT) applies to courts as would be expected in any other formal situation such as a workplace or educational institution. All court attendees are expected to follow court etiquette in the NT to show respect for the legal system. You can be asked to leave the courtroom if you do not show this level of respect.
What to expect at court
Your first time going to court can be a very daunting process, particularly if it is concerning your own matter. It is then best to familiarise yourself with the court, the procedural systems and the court etiquette in the NT before attending your own court proceeding.
Firstly, you can start by reading information on NT courts on their website. The Northern Territory Local Court website includes information on court etiquette in the NT, self-representation and locations of the courts. The Supreme Court website also includes similar information.
Another way to prepare for your court proceeding is to observe a court hearing before your own court proceeding. This would familiarise you with court etiquette in the NT and procedures. When observing a court matter in NT courts, sit in the public gallery at the back of the courtroom. To find out what court matters are on, you can check the daily list prior to turning up at court.
Attending court in the Northern Territory
When attending your court proceeding, you must be punctual and arrive before the scheduled time for your matter. You can find the correct courtroom by reading the daily lists online or at the courts on noticeboards and television screens. You can also ask the court staff. When you arrive at the correct courtroom, sit in the public gallery at the back until your matter has been called upon.
Entering and leaving the court
When entering and leaving the courtroom, it is good court etiquette in the NT and customary to bow your head in the direction of the magistrate or judge as a sign of respect.
Court etiquette in the Northern Territory
The following list shows the expected standard of behaviour in courts in the NT:
- Do not talk unless called upon to speak by the magistrate or judge;
- Listen and follow instructions from the magistrate or judge;
- Address the magistrate or judge as ‘Your Honour’;
- Turn off your mobile phone and do not just switch it to silent;
- Do not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum; and
- Do not record or publish any of the proceeding.
Dress etiquette in the Northern Territory courts
The dress etiquette expected in NT courts is tidy and conservative attire. The following is a suggestion of attire that is appropriate:
- A suit, although not essential;
- Collared button up shirt;
- Pants or skirts at or below knee level and
- Clean closed in shoes.
Dress attire that is not appropriate includes:
- Pants or skirts above knee level;
- Open-toe shoes;
- Sunglasses; or
- Headwear that is not for religious purposes.
If you are dressed inappropriately, the magistrate or judge may warn you or ask you to leave.
The Northern Territory courts can provide additional support for going to court but cannot provide legal advice.
It is always advisable to seek legal advice. You can contact Go To Court Lawyers on 1300 636 846 or request a call-back at www.gotocourt.com.au.