Party in a civil matter
Court can be a complex and costly process. You should seek legal advice before starting or defending a civil matter.
Before going to court
You might like to try and resolve your dispute before coming to court. The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria provides a dispute resolution service that may be able to help. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) may also be able to help with your dispute.
You will need to organise and pay for an interpreter, if you need one, in a civil matter. If you are calling a witness and they need an interpreter, you will also need to organise this before the court hearing. You may make an application for reimbursement of interpreter if your case is successful. See the interpreters page for more information.
Coming to court
It’s recommended you arrive at least 30 minutes before your court time. You should bring any relevant documentation with you.
The court is a formal environment, so please dress appropriately.
To keep the court safe, everyone goes through a security screening. This is to stop dangerous items being brought into court. See the safety and security page for more information.
Straight after the security screening, go to the court’s counter – called the registry - and tell the registrar you have arrived.
The registrar can provide you with information including:
- finding your way to the right courtroom
- helping link you with the person that asked you to give evidence
- directing you to other court services.
A registrar cannot provide legal advice.
On the day, you may have to wait a while before your case is heard, so it is a good idea to bring something to help pass the time.
Make sure you stay in or close to your courtroom, so you hear when your case is called. If you do need to leave the building, be aware this may delay the hearing of your case and the security screening on re-entry may take some time. You case may also be heard in your abscence.
When you enter and leave the courtroom, as a sign of respect, please bow towards the judicial officer.
Once inside the courtroom, do not:
- eat, drink or chew gum
- have your mobile phone switched on
- use electronic devices
- wear a hat or a pair of sunglasses.
When your name is called, go to the large table in the middle of the courtroom - this is called the bar table. When you speak with a judicial officer, call them sir, madam or Your Honour.
The way hearings usually proceed is:
- the case is called
- the plaintiff's case is opened. Witnesses can be called, the defendant may respond
- the defendant's case is opened. Witnesses can be called,
- the plaintiff may respond
- each party may give final submissions.
After all witnesses have completed giving their evidence, the judicial officer will consider arguments and make a decision on the matter. This may be done immediately after the hearing, or the judicial officer may reserve their decision for a later date.
After a judicial officer makes orders on a matter, there are options available to the plaintiff and defendant. See the civil matters section for information about appeals and rehearings and enforcement of civil debt.
See the documents and recordings page for information about accessing audio recordings and court documents.