Northern Territory Coat of Arms

Northern Territory Local Court

Home > Court Procedures and Etiquette > Information about going to Court

Information about going to court

Advice To Self-Represented Parties

This is information on how to represent yourself in Court.

To enable the court's work to proceed in an effective and efficient way, it is essential that everyone who has business to conduct in court should behave in a courteous and orderly way.

Accordingly, rules have been developed ('court etiquette') over many years as to appropriate behaviour in court.

All persons (that is, legal practitioners, defendants, witnesses, police officers, members of the public and others) are expected to comply with those rules.

Knowledge of and compliance with those rules will assist the smooth running of your case.
Here are some of the rules, many of which apply specifically to parties.

Rules and Etiquette

Be punctual if you are a party or witness. The Court has a very busy schedule, so you must be on time for your case. If you are late, your case might be heard in your absence or a warrant might issue for your arrest. Make sure you bring all documents that you might need for your case.

The Judge cannot speak to you about your case except when your case is being heard and when the other party is there. The Court staff will help you in any way they can, but staff cannot give you legal advice or recommendations on what you should do. Please assist court staff by providing any information that they request as that will assist the Court to run effectively and efficiently.

Dress nicely. You do not need to wear a suit however you should make an effort to wear clean smart clothing. Take off your sunglasses and hat when you walk into the court room.


Address others only by their titles and surnames, including lawyers, witnesses, and court staff.

Stand when the Court speaks to you and when you speak to the Court.

Address the Judge as 'Your Honour'.

Stand when the Judge enters or leaves the courtroom. You will notice that immediately before the Judge takes his or her seat on the Bench and just before leaving the Bench he or she will bow to counsel who bow in return. This is a traditional way of indicating mutual respect. Similarly, everyone who enters or leaves the Court-room while the Court is in session is expected to bow to the Court. As this expression of courtesy is expected and usual, it can be done without feeling self-conscious.

The Judge cannot advise you how to conduct your case as the Judge is impartial. However, if you are in doubt as to the correct procedure, you may seek the Judge's directions.

Do not bring any firearm, knife or offensive weapon into a Court building.

Avoid making disparaging remarks while in Court.

It can be worth while to sit in the Courtroom while waiting for your matter to be heard. You may feel more comfortable appearing before the Judge after you have watched other people. If for good cause you have to leave the immediate area of the Court before your case is reached, make sure you tell a member of the Court staff. Usually witnesses must wait outside the Court room while the evidence of other witnesses in their case is being heard.

If you are required to attend a pre-hearing conference, directions conference, or have been summonsed to attend an oral examination/attachment of earnings, you should attend the Civil Registry at the relevant courthouse.

The Court uses every reasonable endeavour to reduce inconvenience to parties and witnesses. However, some delays are unavoidable. If for good cause you need to have your case dealt with early (for example, if you have a medical appointment), let a member of the court staff know and every effort will be made to assist you.

If you need special equipment for your case, for example, a TV monitor and video cassette player, advise the court staff in advance.

Smoking, eating and drinking are not permitted in Court rooms. Smoking is not permitted in Court buildings.

Photography, video and sound recording are not allowed in Court buildings except with express permission. Cameras may not be brought into Court buildings without approval.

The Court's permission is required for the televising or broadcasting of proceedings.