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Court Etiquette NSW

This article discusses court etiquette in NSW.  Abiding by court rules and etiquette is important when attending courts as it displays to the Magistrate or Judge that you are respecting the rules of the court and taking your matter seriously. If the rules of the court are not followed, judicial officers have the right to order a person leave the court under the Court Security Act 2005, or in severe cases, the person may be charged with contempt of court under the Local Court Act 2007. By observing court etiquette, it will assist you in your proceedings. 

The New South Wales Local Court Website is a good resource to familiarise yourself with the process of NSW Courts, as well as provide information on any frequently asked questions.

General Behaviour In The Courtroom

When entering the courtroom, you must ensure that you are acting in a respectful manner towards judicial officers and other members of the public. If you are represented by a solicitor, they will advise you how to behave in the courtroom and notify the court that you are present.  If you are unrepresented, you should liaise with the court officer to notify the court that you have arrived.  The court officer may make their way around the courtroom to take your details when you enter.

Rules to Observe while in the Court Room

  • Mobile devices should be switched off
  • Do not eat or drink
  • Always address the Magistrate, or Judge, as ‘Your Honour’
  • Bow towards the Magistrate when entering or exiting the courtroom
  • Stand whenever the Magistrate enters or exits the courtroom
  • Do not speak unless prompted by the Magistrate or court officer
  • Do not take photos, videos or any other recording of the proceedings
  • Do not argue or talk back to the Magistrate

Dress Code

Wearing appropriate attire to court is the first step in demonstrating respect to the court system in NSW.  Clothing worn to court should be neat, tidy and professional.   It is recommended to dress in long pants with a long-sleeved shirt. Additionally, females can also wear skirts that are knee length or longer, as well as dress pants or an appropriate dress. Both genders should avoid wearing unprofessional shoes that are open and should stick to clean enclosed shoes where possible. 

Singlets, shorts, skirts, thongs, sunglasses, hats, bright colours or clothing with any provocative slogans or logos should be avoided. 

Punctuality

When you have a matter listed in court, it is extremely important to ensure that you are on time for when your matter will be heard.  In the Local Court, most matters begin being heard at 9:30am, however this can often differ depending on the type of Court and matter. You can check the specific details of your matter inside the court house, or online by checking the NSW Online Registry website. 

In NSW, some Local Courts operate by placing matters in a ‘list’, however this process is not adopted by every Court. Nonetheless, even if your matter is listed for a particular time, it is always subject to change depending on the circumstances of the matter, and the way the court is operating on the day. 

It is aways recommended to arrive at the courthouse before 9:30am to be ready. Arriving early also gives you and your lawyer the opportunity to speak with the prosecutor or police if required. In some circumstances, particularly if a matter is listed for hearing, the matter may not be heard until much later in the day, meaning that you could be waiting in court for most of the day. 

Contempt Of Court In NSW

Being in contempt of the court is currently defined as an ‘act that has the tendency to interfere with or undermine the authority, performance, or dignity of the court or those who participate in court proceedings.’

Examples of contempt of conduct behaviour

  • Swearing and yelling at a Magistrate
  • Refusing to leave the courtroom after being directed to do so
  • Refusing to take an oath or affirmation in court
  • Filming or taking photos of witnesses in an attempt to intimidate them

This charge brings with it a maximum penalty of 28 days imprisonment and/or a fine of 20 penalty units, as listed in Section 24 of the Local Court Act 2007. present you 

Further Information on Court Etiquette in NSW

The experienced and helpful criminal team at Brander Smith McKnight Law will carefully explain what happens when you attend court and advise how to comply with court etiquette.  Our criminal lawyers regularly attend the Local and District Courts and are very comfortable speaking with the magistrate or judge and the police and prosecution.  We will speak for you and fight for your rights.  The New South Wales Local Court Website is a good resource to familiarise yourself with the process of NSW Courts, as well as provide information on any frequently asked questions.

Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.

BSM Law are conveniently located in Sutherland, Parramatta, Sydney CBD and Wollongong.

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