Your first appearance in the Magistrates' Court can be a
nerve-wracking experience, whether or not you are a lawyer, so we
share a few tips to help you through it.
Switch your mobile phone off. Even on "silent", the
signal will interfere with the recordings and may be picked up by
the court microphones.
Do not wear sunglasses or a hat in the courtroom.
Do not make notes or recordings in the courtroom without
permission, unless you are at the Bar table during your case. This
can be contempt of court.
Take your diary to check your availability for any further
appearance. If you have engaged a lawyer who cannot attend for this
appearance, take their unavailable dates with you to court.
When you arrive at court, report to the orderly, who will
usually be inside the courtroom. State which matter you are dealing
with. They will tell you whether to wait inside or outside the
Bow to the Magistrate when you enter or leave the
Do not attempt to sit at the table closest to the
Magistrate's bench - it is for the Clerk.
The next table is the Bar table from which you and the other
party will address the court. This is not where evidence is
The next table (or tables) is reserved for lawyers waiting for
their cases to be called. You have to be a lawyer to sit here.
If the Orderly asks you to wait inside the courtroom, wait in
the public gallery at the back of the courtroom or wherever the
Orderly asks you to wait.
When your case is called, make your way to the front table.
Your position on the table will vary. Generally, you sit on the
right if it is your application. However, in courts with dock
access to the holding cells, the Prosecution will sit at the end of
the Bar table furthest from the dock for safety reasons.
Sit down and wait until the Magistrate looks at you (to
indicate readiness). Then stand and identify yourself.
When the Magistrate addresses you, stand up. Failure to do so
can be contempt of court. Although unlikely, it does annoy
Magistrates and you want to avoid that.
Address the Magistrate as "Your Honour".
Do not interrupt the Magistrate at any point.
Be respectful to the Magistrate at all times.
If you wish to speak, stand up - but you should try to do this
only when the other person has stopped speaking.
Do not leave the courtroom until the Orderly has given
permission. They may need to give you paperwork before you
Even seemingly simple matters can become complex. If in any
doubt, seek initial legal advice before that first appearance at
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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