Whether you’re being summoned to court, or just decide to sit in a trial (did you know most courtrooms are open to the public?), it’s important to remember that court is a serious place that deserves respect.
It’s important to be aware of the expectations in court, so to better prepare you for the courtroom, we’ve listed out 7 rules of etiquette you should know before attending a trial.
- Be Punctual – Arriving on time is important in any circumstance, and court is definitely no exception. If you show up late to your own hearing, enter the room quietly and sit down. When there’s a break make sure it’s known to a clerk that you have arrived.
- No Pictures – Did you know it’s a criminal offence to take a photograph in court? Even if you’re seen with a camera security could take it away from you during the trial (and yes – this includes your phone). Not only are pictures not allowed, members of the public are not even permitted to use any electronic device in a courtroom.
- Respect the Judge – Whether you are part of the general public, or you’re attending your own trial, it’s important to know that when the judge enters the room you must stand and remain standing until you’re told to be seated. If you’re there for your own trial, you must stand whenever you’re being spoken to or if you’re speaking to the judge.
- Be Quiet – This may seem obvious to some, but remaining quiet in a courtroom is very important rule for everyone to obey. Noise in a courtroom can be very distracting, which is why it’s important to silence all phones and if you need to talk to someone, leave the room or wait till a break.
- Dress Up – If you’re attending your own trial, treat it as if you’re going to a job interview. Avoid wearing clothing with words or graphics that the court may find disrespectful. Hats or headwear are only permitted for religious reasons, and sunglasses aren’t permitted unless required due to a medical condition.
- Be Polite – It’s important to show respect to the judge, but it’s equally as important to show the same respect to everyone in the courtroom. This means being polite and following direction from all court staff, lawyers, peers etc. Court staff are there to make everything in the room run smoothly, so if you fail to comply with their orders, you may be removed from the courtroom.
- Address with Respect – If you’re attending court for your own trial, make sure you’re aware of the proper way to address the judge. Knowing and using the proper terms in court will help you during your trial, and ties into the 3rd rule of respect. The term “Your Honour” is a term that most Judges can be referred to in court. This term applies if you’re in the Small Claims Court or if you’re in the Superior Court of Justice. In the Superior Court of Justice, you can also refer to a judge as “Mister Justice (last name)” or “Madam Justice (last name)”. A Master in court should be referred to as “Master” or “Master (last name)”.