Court Etiquette in Melbourne
When attending court for any reason, it is important to observe court etiquette. All attendees at court are expected to show respect to the court system and for the judge or magistrate. You may be asked to leave the court if you do not adhere to court etiquette. This article outlines court etiquette in Melbourne and elsewhere in Victoria.
Court Etiquette in Melbourne And Punctuality
The first rule of court etiquette in Melbourne and elsewhere in Victoria is to be on time. To ensure this, you should check the date, time and location where your court matter is to be heard on the Victorian Courts website or on the summons or adjournment slip you have received. You should arrive at court well before the time your matter is listed to be heard so you can find the courtroom and be prepared for any changes.
Court matters are generally placed in a daily court list, which may be scheduled to start at a particular time such as 9 am. However, if your matter is listed at 9am, this does not mean that it will necessarily be heard at 9am. Rather, it means that it may be called on at any time after 9am. If there is a long court list, you may have to wait at court for a number of hours so it’s best to come to court prepared to be there all day.
Attending Court As An Observer
Court matters in Victoria are generally heard in open court, meaning that anyone may attend court and listen to the proceedings. If you attend a matter in which you are not involved, sit in the gallery at the back of the courtroom.
When a matter is particularly sensitive or involves children, it may be heard in closed court. This means that anyone who is not involved will be asked to leave the room until the matter has been dealt with.
Prior to attending court, you can look at the Victorian Courts website daily listings which show which court hearings are open to the public or ask the registry staff at the courts about this.
Court Etiquette in Melbourne And Dress Code
Court etiquette requires you to dress smartly when you are attending court. Court etiquette in Melbourne suggests that appropriate wear for court includes:
- conservative colours (dark or white);
- business wear;
- long pants or a skirt of at least knee-length;
- collared button-up shirt, buttoned modestly;
- clean closed shoes.
If you are representing yourself, you should wear a jacket.
Court etiquette requires people to behave respectfully at all times while in the courtroom. This means:
- being quiet unless called upon by the magistrate or judge;
- turning off any mobile devices;
- removing hats or sunglasse;
- not eating or drinking;
- not recording or publishing any part of the proceeding, including on social media.
The judicial officer directs the processes in the court and sits at the bench at the front of the courtroom. There is a strict code as to how you must behave towards the magistrate or judge when in the courtroom.
- address them as ‘Your Honour’;
- nod or bow to them when entering or exiting the court;
- stand silently whenever they enter or exit the court;
- stand when they addresses you;
- listen to and follow any directions they give you.
If someone who is involved in a court proceeding needs an interpreter, they should let the court staff know this as soon as possible so that an interpreter can be arranged.
Further Assistance At Court
If you are a witness in a proceeding, you may seek support from Victims and Witness Support Services, which can provide information about the legal processes involved when giving evidence.
If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Go To Court Lawyers.