Tips for going to court

If you have not been before, you may be anxious about going to court. If you have a case at court, there are steps you can take to be more in control.

In some cases, information is available to help you, especially if you don’t have a lawyer.

Find out:

  • what to do if you are representing yourself
  • what to do to get ready for court, and
  • how to behave when you get to court.

Video fact sheet icon - blue Download the fact sheet for this video

What do I need to do if I am representing myself?

  • Gather all the information you can.
  • Keep all your paperwork together in a safe place.
  • Read our information sheets and guides that might help you to represent yourself. We have online guides to help if you are representing yourself at a Magistrates Court criminal trial or applying for a family violence restraining order.
  • Get legal advice about how to summons witnesses or documents to court, so that you make sure you follow court rules and know the costs that may be involved.
  • Arrange for your witnesses to come to court on the day of your trial hearing.

What do I do to get ready for court?

Be on time

If you are late for court or do not come at all, things might happen in your absence. The time you need to be at court should be written on your court papers. It is usually a good idea to arrive earlier. If you are not sure of the court day or time, ring the court or check online.

Dress neatly

Take off any sunglasses or hats. You may not be allowed into court because of the way that you are dressed (such as because you are not wearing shoes, or you are wearing clothes that are see-through or revealing or have images that might offend someone).

Organise child care

If you have children, try to arrange childcare. Courts may help organise and pay for childcare so you can go to court without the extra worry of looking after children. 

You need to contact the court where your case is at least 2 days before your court date. If you can’t organise childcare, bring someone with you to court who can mind the children outside the courtroom while your case is being heard.

Ask for an interpreter if necessary

To arrange an interpreter, you can call the court where your case will be and tell them that you need an interpreter. You will need to tell them your court date and the specific language you speak. You should do this as early as possible before your court date.

What should I do when I get to court?

Do not have your mobile phone or pager on in court

Turn off all mobile phones before entering the court. Do not take any food or drink into court.

Bow to the magistrate when you enter the courtroom

When entering and leaving the courtroom, it is polite to bow towards the magistrate or judge. Stand up when they enter and leave the courtroom.

Let the orderly know you have arrived

Tell the court orderly that you have arrived and that you are representing yourself if you don’t have a lawyer.

In criminal cases sit at the back of the court and wait. When your name is called, walk to the front of the court and stand at the bar table, down the other end from the prosecutor.

In other cases, sit in the waiting room outside the court room and wait for your name to be called. Follow the directions of the court staff in the courtroom when you go into the court as they will usually tell you where to stand at the bar table.

Call the magistrate or judge 'Your Honour'

If the magistrate or judge is speaking to you, or you want to say something, you must stand up.

Speak clearly and listen when they are talking. Don't interrupt or talk over the magistrate or judge, or other people they are talking to.

How do I contact the court?

The Department of Justice website lists the location and contact details for WA courts.


Reviewed: 4 October 2022


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.