Frequently asked questions and answers that will assist you if you are representing yourself in Court
For general frequently asked questions about the Court, please refer to About the Court.
How do I represent myself in Court?
Does the Court provide legal advice?
No. The Court is not allowed to give legal advice. However, our staff can give you information and guidance about how the Court process works. The Supreme Court has a Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator. They are not allowed to give legal advice but can provide guidance on Court procedures. Also, see our guides on representing yourself in different types of matters heard in the Supreme Court, available on the Representing Yourself page. The guides include contact details for organisations that provide free or low-cost legal information and services.
What does it mean to represent myself in Court and where can I find information?
Representing yourself in Court means taking responsibility for all the tasks a lawyer would normally help you with, including preparing documents and presenting your case in Court. See our guides for information on representing yourself in common types of proceedings. The Supreme Court has a Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator. They are not allowed to give legal advice but can provide guidance on Court procedures.
Who can help me prepare my case?
Our guides on representing yourself in a Supreme Court case have contact details for organisations that may be able to help you with free or low-cost legal services and information. The guides also provide an overview of Court procedures. The Supreme Court has a Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator. They are not allowed to give legal advice but can provide guidance on Court procedures.
Should I get legal advice before I start an application?
It is best to seek legal advice if you have a legal problem that you are unable to resolve outside the Court. If you cannot afford legal advice, check our list of organisations that may be able to help you with free or low-cost legal help and information. Court staff can help with questions about how the Court process works. They are not allowed to give legal advice or help you prepare or present your case.
How do I prepare for my hearing in Court?
Do I need to bring any documents to my hearing?
Yes. It is important that you are fully prepared to present your case to the Court. Bring all documents you intend to rely on during the hearing, arranged neatly in a folder and clearly labelled. If you refer to a document during your hearing, the judge will expect you to say the name of the document and the page and paragraph number you are referring to. See the videos to help with Court processes section and watch 'Preparing for your hearing' and 'Attending Court - The day of your hearing'.
Will I need to speak in Court?
Yes. If you are representing yourself, you are expected to present your case to the Court. You must stand up when the judge is speaking to you or when you are invited to speak, otherwise remain quietly seated. Address the judge as “Your Honour”. If there is more than one judge say “Your Honours”.
What are costs and if I lose my case, will I have to pay the costs of the other party ?
Costs are fees for lawyers’ professional services and disbursements (out-of-pocket expenses), such as Court fees, fees for expert reports, medical reports and photocopying. If you lose your case, the Court may order you to pay the other party’s costs. If you win, the Court may order the other party to pay your costs. If you represented yourself, you cannot claim the time you spent working on your case as a cost.
Can I bring someone to Court with me?
You can bring a friend or family member as your support person but they will not be able to speak to the judge or ask questions on your behalf during the proceeding (unless the judge gives them permission to do so). They must sit in the area reserved for the public.
What do I wear to Court?
The Court is a formal place and this should be reflected in what you wear, as it shows respect. Wear a suit or formal business clothes if you have them. If not, dress in a way that’s neat and tidy. You must not wear singlets, hats or sunglasses and must wear shoes (not thongs) in the courtroom.
What do I do if I cannot come to Court at the listed time?
If you cannot attend at the listed time, contact the Court immediately.
What can I expect on the day of my hearing in Court?
What time should I arrive?
Arrive at Court early as delays can occur at security, particularly during peak times (9am-10.30am and 1.30pm-2.30pm). If you fail to attend your hearing, the matter may be considered in your absence and may be dismissed or an order made against you.
Where do I go when I arrive at Court?
Check the Daily Hearing List on our website for the number of your courtroom. The Daily Hearing List is updated at about 4.30pm each day to display the courtroom listings for the next business day. When you arrive at the courtroom, report to the court officer who will show you where to sit. Your hearing may not be the only one in the courtroom that day so be prepared to wait for your turn.
Where do I sit in the courtroom?
A court officer will tell you where to sit. You normally sit at the Bar Table near the front of the courtroom. If you are unsure where to sit, ask a court officer for help when you arrive at Court and before the judge enters the courtroom.
How long will my hearing take?
It is difficult to predict how long a hearing will take. This will depend on the type of hearing, how complicated the matter is and how many other matters are listed at the same time. Please consider this when planning your day.
How long does a directions hearing take?
A directions hearing may only take 15 minutes or less. Its purpose is to work out the timing of your matter and not to hear the substantial facts of the case. However, you may have to wait several hours for your turn if other cases are scheduled to be heard at the same time as yours. At the directions hearing you will be asked how long you think the final hearing or trial will take. This helps the Court schedule a judge and courtroom for the hearing of your matter.
Who else will be in the courtroom?
There may be a variety of other people in the courtroom, including the judge, court officers, solicitors, barristers, parties, members of the public and sometimes media.
How do I address the judge?
Address the judge as “Your Honour”. If there is more than one judge say “Your Honours”.
What do I need to know about how to act in the courtroom?
When entering and leaving the courtroom you are expected to bow towards the judge and stand up when the judge enters and leaves the courtroom. You must stand up when you are being spoken to or when you are invited to speak, otherwise remain quietly seated. If you have to leave the courtroom for any reason before the judge, you must bow to the judge when you leave. See our Videos to Help With Court Processes page and watch 'Attending Court - the day of the hearing'.
What happens during the hearing?
See our Videos to Help with Court Processes page and watch 'Attending Court - the day of the hearing' for information on what happens during a hearing.
Can I speak directly to the other party during the hearing?
During the hearing you cannot speak directly to the other party but must direct any comments or questions to the judge. Listen to the questions the judge asks you and answer them carefully and clearly. If you do not understand something or do not hear a question, politely ask the judge to repeat or rephrase the question.
What do I need to do after the hearing?
It depends on the type of hearing and the orders (instructions) made by the Court. If you are unsure, contact the Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator for guidance. If a timetable has been set, you may have a deadline for when you need to do things such as file documents. A timetable set by the Court is a Court order – you must comply with it.
When do I get my decision?
You can expect a decision within weeks or months of the final hearing, depending on the complexity of the case.