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Court Etiquette in Victoria

Court etiquette in Victoria consists of customs and rules of appropriate behaviour. When in court, all attendees are expected to show respect to the court system and the magistrates and judges. You may be asked to depart if you do not follow the rules of etiquette.

Getting ready for court

Rules of Court Etiquette in Victoria
Court etiquette in Victoria means you must be on time. To ensure you are, you should check the date, time and location of your court matter on the Victorian Courts website. You should arrive early to your hearing so you have adequate time to find the courtroom and are prepared for any changes.

Court hearings in Victoria are generally open to the public unless it is a matter with special circumstances. You may attend an open hearing to familiarise yourself with the court process before your own proceeding. If you attend, you should sit in the gallery at the back of the courtroom.

Prior to attending, you can check the daily listings of court hearings open to the public on the Victorian Courts website or ask registry staff at the courts.

What to wear to court

The dress code of courthouses requires you to dress smartly and neatly. Rules of court etiquette in Victoria suggest that the following would be appropriate wear for court:

  • conservative coloured clothing in dark colours and white
  • business wear (though this is not essential)
  • collared button up shirt (make sure it is buttoned modestly)
  • long pants or a skirt at or below your knees
  • clean shoes with closed toes
  • if you have to go to court and do not have a lawyer, you should wear a jacket if possible.

How to behave in the courtroom

You should behave respectfully in the courtroom at all times as you would in a formal setting such as a workplace or educational institution. You should:

  • sit quietly unless called upon to speak by the magistrate or judge
  • turn off all mobile devices
  • refrain from eating or drinking
  • refrain from recording or publishing any part of the proceeding, including adding to social media.

How to behave towards magistrates and judges

The judicial officer (judge or magistrate) directs the processes in the court and is seated at the front of the courtroom. There is a strict code as to how you behave towards the magistrate or judge. You should:

  • address the magistrate or judge as ‘Your Honour’
  • nod your head at the magistrate or judge when entering or exiting the courtroom
  • stand silently whenever the magistrate or judge enters or exits the courtroom
  • stand whenever the magistrate or judge speaks to you
  • listen to and follow any directions given by the magistrate or judge.

How to leave the courtroom

When you leave the courtroom, court etiquette in Victoria requires that you bow your head in the direction of the judicial officer as a sign of respect.

Further assistance regarding court etiquette in Victoria

If you are a victim of crime, you may seek some assistance from support services such as Victims of Crime or the Court Network.

If you have to go to court, it is always advisable to seek legal advice first. Go To Court Lawyers offers expert, affordable advice and strong representation, even at short notice. You can contact Go To Court Lawyers on 1300 636 846 or request a call-back at gotocourt.com.au.

This article reflects the state of the law as at 23 February 2016. It is intended to be of a general nature only and does not constitute legal advice. If you require legal assistance, please telephone 1300 636 846 or request a consultation at gotocourt.com.au.

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