Information for the media
The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria is committed to working with the media to make the court open and transparent.
Hearings in the Magistrates’ Court are generally open to the public and media and may be reported in full. In some instances, it may be necessary for the presiding judicial officer to make orders limiting the access of the public and media to a court, or to material that is put before the court. This is to ensure hearings are conducted according to law and without disruption.
See the criminal offences page for information about the different types of criminal court hearings in the Magistrates’ Court.
Go to find a court date to register for case tracking, which provides SMS and email updates on court dates. Details on intervention order hearings and matters subject to suppression orders are not publicly available.
The Magistrates’ Court does not publicly comment on government policy or matters that are still before the court. Journalists are asked not to directly contact judicial officers for interviews.
Requests for general comments about the Magistrates’ Court must be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video and photography
Video and photography is prohibited in court buildings without the written permission of the Magistrates’ Court. Journalists seeking videos or imagery within a court premises must email email@example.com.
The Magistrates’ Court can issue suppression orders, under the Open Courts Act 2013 to ensure hearings are conducted in accordance with the law and in the interests of justice.
Journalists can request to receive emailed notifications about new suppression orders by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parties are required to give three days’ notice of their intention to apply for a suppression order. These notifications are forwarded to media when received so outlets have the opportunity to be heard in relation to the application.
Why can’t I find a matter on EFAS?
The Electronic Filing Appearance System (EFAS) contains a searchable list of upcoming matters in the Magistrates’ Court. It also provides an online platform for lawyers to complete key tasks.
The EFAS court list is accessible to the public and is updated at 3.30pm each day.
Anyone charged by Victoria Police after 3.30pm and due to appear before the court that night or the next day will not appear on the list until the following day.
If you can’t find a matter you are looking for on EFAS, you can:
- wait until 3.30pm and search again
- search a first or surname instead of full name, in case of a spelling error
- search by informant / applicant, case number, location or date field only
- leave the location field blank, to search across all Magistrates’ Court locations, or
- contact the Magistrates’ Court Victoria media team at email@example.com in the case of an urgent breaking news or late remand matter.
For further information about EFAS, click here.
Requesting court documents
Apply to view court documents by completing a
media application form.
Court documents include, but are not limited to:
- charge and summons
- the prosecution summary
- a hand-up brief
- CCTV footage
- police statements.
The presiding judicial officer will decide if court documents will be released for inspection or copies provided via emailed PDF or photocopy. Photocopied documents are charged at 60c per page. The release of documents from the court file is always at the discretion of the presiding judicial officer.
If a media application form is not lodged during the court hearing, then reporters will not be able to access any documents released. If a reporter wishes to apply to access documents before the next scheduled hearing, they will need to apply for a special mention hearing and serve the notice of application for a special mention on the parties.
This allows them to attend the hearing of the application. A registrar will send a copy of the application to the accused on behalf of the applicant as the address of an accused cannot be released without an order of the court.
Please note: there is no requirement for reporters to notify parties of their intention to apply for court documents at scheduled hearings.
Searching the court register
The court register – a database containing information about charges, penalties and final orders – can be searched at any Magistrates’ Court venue. Section 18 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1989 outlines what information can be accessed from the register. Only matters that have concluded can be searched.
It costs $27 to access the register. Notes can be taken from the information sighted. If a printed copy is required, a certified extract needs to be purchased and the cost is $52.50 per extract. Each extract contains only one charge.
Payment is made in person at the relevant Magistrates’ Court.
John Smith is seeking background information about a person who has appeared in court.
Mr Smith goes to his nearest Magistrates’ Court and pays $27 to search for the person’s name. The search reveals three previous outcomes. John decides he’d like a copy of each of the outcomes, requiring three certified extracts.
The cost of accessing the court register and printing the three extracts is $184.50 – $27 for the search fee and $157.50 for the three extracts.
Requesting audio recordings
Most criminal, civil, family law, family violence and victims of crime matters held in open court are recorded. Audio recordings are available for 12 months from the date of the hearing.
To access an audio recording, a completed request for copy of audio recording form must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org who will direct it to the registrar at the court venue where the proceeding was heard. The chief magistrate, deputy chief magistrate or division head will review the request and advise of the outcome in writing.
If the request is granted, a fee per audio recording must be paid to the court. Audio recordings will not be provided unless the court has received payment. Payment can be made in person to the relevant Magistrates’ Court via money order or cash. Audio recordings are generally supplied within 14 days of the request.
See the Court Services website for more information.
Use of phones and electronic devices
Personal electronic devices cannot be used in a courtroom to:
- take photos
- record video and audio
- make or receive phone calls
- post to blogging or social media sites.
Reporters may be able to use electronic devices to take notes, subject to the approval of the presiding judicial officer.
Refer to the use of electronic devices policy for more information.
Contact the Magistrates’ Court media team
Email media queries to: email@example.com.
This is not a full list of legislation associated with this topic. See the Victorian Government's legislation website for more information.