Court etiquette

How to dress for court hearings

When dressing for court keep your clothing smart and simple.

A list of potential clothing items to wear:

  • Trousers
  • Skirt
  • Smart top or blouse
  • Suit – tie is optional
  • Smart shoes

Unless there is a very good reason (for example because of a health condition) it is probably best to avoid wearing the following in court:

  • Trainers
  • Jeans
  • Tracksuit
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses

Remember to turn your phone off to ensure it does not ring during proceedings.

How to speak to judges

Be clear, respectful and polite.

The party who has made the application to court usually gets to make their submissions first.

Do not interrupt them when they are speaking and do not try to talk over them or the other party, you will get your chance to speak. Ask the judge to inform you of when it is appropriate for you to speak.

Do not attend court with the assumption that the judge remembers you or your case from a previous hearing. Bring documents you have previously submitted in case they haven’t had a chance to read your entire case file.

Make sure that the other party in the proceedings has a copy of the evidence/documents/papers that you are going to submit to the judge.

When the hearing is over, if you have any questions about the next steps or any responsibilities you have before the next hearing, ask the judge. Judges understand that not everyone can access legal advice and therefore do not want you to be at a disadvantage to the other party.

What to call the judge

District Judges and Magistrates should always be addressed as Sir/Madam.

Circuit Judges should always be addressed as Your Honour.

When a District Judge or Magistrate enters the court room you can remain seated, but with a Circuit Judge you should remain standing until they have given you permission to sit.