Court Etiquette in Victoria
When in court in Victoria, all attendees are expected to show respect to the court system and to the magistrate or judge. This is done by respecting the rules of court etiquette. A person may be asked to leave if they do not follow the rules of etiquette. In extreme cases they may even be charged with contempt of court. This article outlines court etiquette in Victoria.
Getting ready for court
It is important to attend court on time. To ensure you are on time, check the date, time and location of your court matter on the Victorian Courts website. You should arrive early so you have adequate time to find the courtroom and are prepared for any changes. However, it is important to be aware that your matter may not be heard at the time it is listed for. Depending on the length of the court list, you may be required to wait for some time until your matter is reached. It is always wise to come to court prepared to be there all day. This means ensuring your car is parked somewhere without a time limit and that arrangements are made for care of children.
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 at courthouses requires a person to dress smartly and neatly. The following is appropriate attire for court:
- conservative coloured clothing (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 any other formal setting such as a workplace or educational institution.
- 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
- take off hats or sunglasses before entering the courtroom.
How to behave towards magistrates and judges
The judge or magistrate directs the processes in the court and sits 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 require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers.