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Court Etiquette in WA

Anyone who attends court in Western Australia needs to show respect for the courts system by behaving appropriately. This includes dressing neatly, being punctual and observing conventions such as bowing when entering and exiting the court room. If this standard of behaviour is not shown, a person may be asked to leave the court or may even be charged with contempt of court. Court etiquette applies equally in civil matters and in criminal matters.

Be prepared for court in Western Australia

When attending court in Australia, you should make yourself aware of what to expect. To familiarise yourself with the court etiquette in WA, it is suggested to attend court prior to your own court matter. Courts in WA are open to the public unless there are special circumstances which make it a private hearing. If you attend court, sit quietly at the back of the court in the public gallery to observe. You can find listings of the court proceedings on the Western Australia Courts website or the courts’ notice boards. Alternatively, you can ask registry staff at the courts.

You should ensure you are ready for your own court matter by arriving on time. It is recommended to arrive earlier to find the courtroom and to anticipate any changes to your court matter. You should check the date, time and location of your court matter on the  Western Australia Courts website prior to your hearing. However, you should also be ware that your matter may not be heard at the precise time it is listed for. Depending on how long the court list is and how matters are prioritised, you may need to wait until later in the day before your matter is dealt with. It is a good idea to come to court prepared to be there all day.

Dress code for court in Western Australia

In Western Australian courts, the dress code is tidy and conservative. The following recommendations of what to wear to court is what is generally acceptable as proper court etiquette in WA courts:

  • Subtle coloured clothing such as dark colours and white;
  • A suit, although this is not essential;
  • Collared button up shirt making sure to buttoned it up to an appropriate point;
  • Pants or a skirt at or below knee level; and
  • Clean closed in shoes.

The following are examples of what is not be acceptable in court:

  • Sleeveless tops;
  • Pants or skirts that are above knee level;
  • Open toe shoes such as thongs or sandals;
  • Sunglasses; and
  • Hats or caps.

Entering and leaving the courtroom

When you enter and leave the courtroom, it is customary and good court etiquette to bow at the Coat of Arms behind the judicial officers as a sign of respect.

Standard of behaviour in the courtroom

Court etiquette in WA also requires a certain standard of behaviour to followed. This standard of behaviour in the courtroom should be followed in court as it is a place of respect and formality. The following are examples of the standards of behaviour expected in the courtroom:

  • Sit silently unless called upon by the magistrate or judge (judicial officer);
  • Follow the judicial officer’s instructions;
  • Address the judicial officer as ‘Your Honour’;
  • Turn off all audio and/or mobile devices;
  • Refrain from eating or drinking;
  • Refrain from taking photos, recording or publishing any part of the proceeding.

For further assistance

If you are a victim or a person going to court, you may seek assistance from support services such as Victim Support Service.

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

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