My Date Is Set For Court, What Can I Expect?
Before going to Court you should learn about proper Court etiquette and procedures.
Is there security?
- Yes, the Courthouse has metal detectors and security screening at entrances to screen you and your belongings, including briefcases, backpacks, and purses.
- Before arriving at the Courthouse, make sure you do not have any pocket or utility knives or anything else that may be considered a weapon. These items will be confiscated, and you may be denied entry into the Courthouse. When coming to the Courthouse, you should allow extra time for security screening.
What to expect at the Courthouse?
- In some locations, you may be required to pay for parking.
- Taking photographs anywhere in the Courthouse is not allowed, unless a Judge has given you permission to do so.
- Most Court proceedings are open to the public. If the Judge has ordered that proceedings be private, a sign reading “in camera” will be posted on the door and / or the door may be locked. If you see a sign on the courtroom door saying that the proceeding is not open to the public or the door is locked, do not attempt to enter.
How do I find out where to go in the Courthouse?
- If you are attending the Courthouse to file documents, go to the filing counter responsible for your documents and a Clerk will assist you.
- If you have a matter being heard in Court and do not know where to attend, there may be court lists or computer monitors that display alphabetically all matters that are being heard. If you still are unable to find the location of your matter, ask a member of the court staff to direct you.
What to expect inside the courtroom?
- When the courtroom is open, find a seat in the gallery. Standing is generally not permitted in courtrooms.
- When the Judge enters or leaves the courtroom, everyone in the room must stand up to show respect. Rise and remain standing until the Clerk or Judge asks you to be seated.
- Turn off your cellphone or any other electronic devices before entering the courtroom. They are not permitted to be on unless the Judge orders otherwise. No one is permitted to record the Court proceedings.
- Absolutely no talking is allowed by observers during Court.
- No food, gum or beverages, other than water, are allowed in the courtrooms.
- Hats or headwear are not permitted except for religious reasons. Sunglasses must be removed before entering the courtroom (unless they are required due to a medical condition).
- There are no strict rules about what to wear to Court, but taking some care with your appearance is suggested.
What is proper Court etiquette?
- Be on time.
- It is essential that you remain polite and respectful of everyone in the courtroom throughout the proceedings. Do not interrupt anyone while they are speaking. It is important to have an effective presentation of your case, as witnesses and the other party respond more positively to courteous behaviour.
- You must stand whenever you speak to the Judge or the Judge speaks to you.
- If you are addressing a Judge in Provincial Court, you should call the Judge “Your Honour”.
- Generally, each Court has a lunch break, as well as a morning and an afternoon break. The timing of these breaks varies and is up to the Judge.
- Court staff are responsible for maintaining security and decorum in the courtroom. Follow any direction that they give you. If you do not follow these directions, you may be asked to leave the courtroom or security may be called.
Is anyone allowed to attend Court?
- Yes, most Court cases are open to the public to attend.
- The only exception is if a courtroom has a sensitive matter being heard, in which case a sign reading “in camera” is placed outside the courtroom and you should not enter.
How do I prepare for Court?
- For many, it may be your first time coming to Court. You may want to observe Court prior to your own Court appearance to see how a courtroom operates. Contact your local Provincial Court Office.
- For more detailed information on how to prepare for Court review Preparing For Court.