General Tips for Court Attendance 1: Preparing for Hearing

General Tips for Court Attendance 1: Preparing for Hearing

Published on 28 September 2022
Last updated on 2 February 2024

The court is a formal place, and so it is important that you behave appropriately and act respectful.

It is also important that you respect the court by abiding to the rules of court etiquette. Otherwise, you may be found in ‘contempt of court’ and be told to leave or at worst, you can be fined or sent to jail.

To help you arrive prepared for the day, we have organized a list of general tips and court etiquette that you should be aware of before attending on the day of your hearing.

However, if you’re interested about what to expect on the day of the hearing, then you may consider reading our article that provides a break-down of the hearing process with some general tips for the day.

 

General Tips for Court Attendance 1: Preparing for Hearing

 

1. Preparing for the Day of Court Hearing

Familiarize yourself with which courtroom that you will be attending and the time your matter is to be due. This will help reduce your stress if you have arrive already knowing where you need to be beforehand.

We also suggest bringing the following with you:

  • A notebook and pen to take notes;
  • All documents and evidence, including any original documents such as your application or response; and
  • A list of questions for the other party.

We recommend preparing at least two spare copies of your original documents in case you are required to provide a copy to the magistrate or judge, and to the other party during the hearing.

You should be prepared to spend the whole day at court. While a hearing can take up to a few minutes to several hours, you will also need to wait for your turn before your matter will be heard.

 

2. On the Day of the Attendance

2.1 Dress formally

Arrive in a neat, casual, or business attire. We generally recommend sticking to conservative colours and avoiding bright colours.

The following is a suggestion of dress attire that may be suitable:

  • a suit (but not essential);
  • collared button up shirt (make sure it is buttoned to an appropriate point);
  • pants or a skirt at or below knee level;
  • clean closed shoes; and
  • a jacket, especially if you are representing yourself.

Jeans, singlets and thongs are not appropriate clothing.

 

2.2 Arrive early

Arrive to the courtroom at least 30 minutes before the scheduled hearing time and report to the judge’s associate or court clerk to let them know that you have arrived. This is very important, especially if you are not legally represented.

The judge’s associate or court clerk will either be in or just outside of the courtroom.

If this is your first time attending court, you can find the correct room by referring to the notice boards or television screen at the courthouse. You can also ask someone at the registry counter located in the court’s foyer.

 

2.3 Be ready

Cases may not always be called in the order that they are listed. Until your case has been called, you should remain seated in the courtroom or outside in the public waiting area.

However, if your matter is being heard in the Magistrates Court, we recommend waiting outside the courtroom until you are called.

In the District Court, a bailiff will notify will be able to tell you when your case will be heard.

If you are going to the Supreme Court, you should wait inside the courtroom or in the public seating area. Likewise, you can ask the bailiff when your case is due to start.

 

3. In the Courtroom

When you enter the courtroom, pause and bow your head to the Coat of Arms behind the magistrate. This is a sign of respect to the magistrate or judge, and the court.

You may have to wait until your case is called as there may be several cases listed on the same day. Until then, you must wait in the public seating area until the court is ready to hear your case.

 

3.1 General Rules of Court Etiquette

When you are in the courtroom, make sure that you:

  • Turn of all electronic devices, including your mobile phone;
  • Do not eat, drink, or chew gum;
  • Do not take photos, video, or sound recordings;
  • Do not smoke; and
  • Do not talk, comment, or make noise while you are waiting

 

3.2 Court Etiquette towards the Magistrate or Judge

You must behave respectfully towards the magistrate or judge by:

  • Address the magistrate or judge as ‘Your Honour’;
  • Bowing your head when you enter or leave the courtroom;
  • Stand when you are speaking to, or being spoken to, by the magistrate or judge;
  • Stand and bow when the magistrate or judge enters or leaves the courtroom; and
  • Listen when they are speaking

 

4. Leaving the Court

Bow your head to the Coat of Arms behind the judge or magistrate as you leave the courtroom.

You should continue to behave appropriately and respectfully after the hearing and outside the courtroom.

 

5. Conclusion

Going to court can be daunting and stressful, and that feeling is completely normal. With these tips, we hope that we have offered you some peace of mind leading to the day of the court hearing.

Now equipped with this knowledge, you may however you find yourself asking, ‘what can I expect next on the actual day of the hearing?’  Then you may be interested in the sequel to this two-part series where we briefly discuss the hearing process while offering some general tips that will assist you on the day of your hearing. If you require legal help, feel free to contact our team.

Disclaimer: Ascent Lawyers owns all copyright in the text. This article is of a general nature and should not be regarded as legal advice or relied on for assistance in any particular circumstance or emergency situation. To obtain legal advice in relation to your own circumstances, please contact us for consultation.

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