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What happens in the courtroom?

Court of Appeal - My day in court

    Who will be present in the court room?

    The Court of Appeal is generally made up of three to five judges, depending on the type of matter being heard. These judges may be members of the appeal court and/or judges of the trial division of the Supreme Court.

    The judges sit at the high bench at the front of the court room and control the hearing and the court room. There is no jury in the Court of Appeal.

    Each judge has an associate who may be in court for the hearing. The judges’ associates sit in front of the judges and provide clerical assistance to the court.

    A bailiff or court orderly may also be present in the court room. 

    There are no court reporters in the Court of Appeal as all proceedings are recorded electronically and later transcribed by the State Reporting Bureau

    The public sit in the public gallery at the back of the court, unless the court directs otherwise.

    What happens in criminal matters?

    Representatives from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will be present in the court for criminal matters. A barrister (wearing robes) and a solicitor or instructing clerk will appear for the prosecution.

    The prosecution always sit on the right hand side of the bar table. The other party sit on the left hand side of the bar table.

    If a self-represented litigant is in custody, he or she will usually sit in the dock and a Corrective Services’ officer will sit next to the dock. The dock has a seat within an enclosed area situated near the bar table.

    What happens in civil matters?

    Applicants/appellants sit on the left hand side of the bar table when they are representing themselves.

    When do appeal hearings take place?

    The Court of Appeal generally hears matters between 10.15am and 4.15pm.

    You will be notified in writing of the date of the appeal hearing in advance.

    Details of the time of the hearing and court room are:

    • published in the Law list in the Courier Mail newspaper on the day of the hearing
    • published in the Law list on the website after 6pm on the day before the hearing
    • available from the registry on the afternoon before to the hearing.

    You must be present in court for the time nominated for hearing and you should arrive early.

    Staff at the information kiosk on the ground floor, at the Court of Appeal registry on the ground floor or the security desk on level five will be able to advise you on where to attend your hearing on the day.  

    How do I find out which judges are hearing the matter?

    The hearing details, including the judges’ details, are:

    • published in the Law list in the Courier Mail newspaper on the day of the hearing
    • published in the Law list on the website after 6pm on the day before the hearing
    • available from the registry on the afternoon prior to the hearing.

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    What do I prepare for the start of the hearing?

    The Court of Appeal practice directions provide you with information about general procedures and what you need to do before the hearing.

    When you arrive at the courtroom, an appearance slip, usually found outside the court room, must be completed in triplicate.

    The appearance slip is a written record of the names of the parties and their representatives and is collected by the bailiff or associate and handed to the judges.

    The hearing will commence once the judge’s associate calls the name of the matter.

    You should ensure that you are seated at the bar table when the hearing starts. You may place documents and papers on the podium and on the bar table during the hearing.

    If you are in custody, there is room for documents and papers in the dock. Drinking water is usually provided for all litigants in the court room.

    All parties will usually stand to speak while the court is in session. If you are physically disabled, please advise the court.

    You should speak clearly and slowly as all proceedings are recorded.

    When you speak to the judges, they should be addressed formally by referring to each judge as “your honour”. When addressing all the judges, “your honours” is the appropriate form of address.

    You should not speak while a judge is speaking.

    How does the hearing begin?

    Each party will state their name and who they are representing at the beginning of the hearing. If you are self-represented, you should advise the court that you are appearing for yourself. 

    The person who is appealing is referred to as the appellant/applicant and will be called on to make the first submission. Once this is completed, the appellant/applicant should advise the court and then sit down at the bar table.  .

    The other party, who is referred to as the respondent, will then make their submission and also advise the court when that is completed.

    The appellant/applicant will then have an opportunity to make a further submission in reply but this will usually be limited to responding to only what the other party has said.

    What can I talk about?

    You should remember that the appeal is usually heard only on the evidence taken in the lower court.

    The written outlines of argument lodged in the registry by both parties prior to the appeal hearing and the oral arguments must be based on the evidence given to the lower court.

    The written outlines of argument are critical to the appeal process and form the foundation of the oral arguments at the hearing.

    It is possible, though unusual, for the court to consider evidence not given in the lower court. If you want to raise further evidence, this can only be done with the leave of the court. There is a particular process for this.

    The judges will generally ask questions during the hearing and you should answer any questions as concisely and as accurately as possible.

    If you do not understand what is being asked, you should say that you do not understand and ask the judge to explain the question. 

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    Can I use any written material?

    If you want to hand up any documents to the judges, you should pass the material to the judge’s associate or the bailiff, who will hand them to the judges.

    You should provide enough copies for each judge and your opponent(s).

    When do I need to stand up?

    If there is an adjournment, everyone in the court room must stand up while the judges leave the courtroom.

    When the judges return to the courtroom, everyone must stand and remain standing until told to be seated. This does not apply to anyone unable to stand because of a disability.

    Once the appeal hearing is completed, you should quietly leave the court room. If you are in custody, you will be escorted out of the court room by a Corrective Services’ officer.

    Is there anything I can do to help my case?

    The Court of Appeal, like any court, is formal and you should dress, act and speak accordingly. Your role is to try to persuade the judges that your arguments are right. 

    There are a number of things you can do that will help your case.

    • Study the appeal record book – it contains the evidence that the Court of Appeal will consider before making its decision
    • Dress neatly and cleanly for your court appearance
    • Be courteous and cooperative
    • Be respectful to everyone in the court, including court staff
    • Be on time for the appeal hearing
    • Be prepared and ready to make your oral arguments
    • Structure your arguments in a logical way
    • Speak slowly and clearly
    • Listen carefully to the questions that you are asked in court
    • If you don’t understand something or do not hear a question, politely ask the judge to repeat or rephrase whatever was said
    • If you refer to a piece of evidence in the appeal record book, give the page number
    • Stay calm
    • Turn off any mobile phones/pagers etc. while you are in court. Do not put them on silent.
    • Listen carefully to what your opponent says and don’t interrupt them. If you disagree with their statement of evidence or a matter or law, you will have an opportunity to briefly reply when they have finished.

    Is the Law Courts Complex wheelchair accessible?

    Yes. The complex and the courtrooms are wheelchair accessible.

    Lifts provide access to the Banco Court and Court of Appeal and wheelchair accessible toilets are found on the ground floor and level four.

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    Can I talk to the judges about my matter after the hearing is completed?

    You should not:

    • speak to the judges outside the courtroom
    • send correspondence to the judges regarding the hearing.

    You should follow the directions of the court if you are asked to provide further submissions.

    What happens if I do not attend the appeal hearing?

    If you do not attend your appeal hearing, the matter may be considered in your absence.

    If an appellant/applicant does not appear, the matter may be struck out and they may be required to pay costs.

    If a respondent does not appear the matter may be heard in that person’s absence.

    You should advise the registrar if you do not wish to appear in person but would like to have your matter heard via your written submissions. You may also be permitted to appear via video or telephone-link and you should discuss this option with the registrar.

    Otherwise, you must attend your hearing on the correct date and at the designated time.

    Is parking or access to public transport available?

    There are a number of large car parking stations in the city within walking distance of the Law Courts Complex.

    The complex is also accessible by train, bus and ferry.

    Where can I make a phone call?

    Public phones can be found on the ground level and level four of the Complex and in George Street. Public telephones are also located in George Street directly outside the court complex.

    You may also use your mobile phone outside the courtroom.

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    Where can I get refreshments and are there breaks throughout the appeal hearing?

    The Court of Appeal breaks for lunch and may also break at other times.

    When this occurs, the people involved in the hearing will be told when the court will resume.

    It is advisable to stay close to the court at all times (except during lunch breaks).

    The Law Courts Complex has its own coffee shop on the ground level. Alternatively, there are cafes and food shops in the Brisbane Square building on Adelaide Street.

    Eating and drinking inside courtrooms is generally prohibited. However, water is provided for witnesses and litigants at the bar table.

    Smoking is not allowed inside the Law Courts Complex.

    What are the opening hours of the Law Courts Complex?

    Opening hours during Monday to Friday except for public and court holidays are:

    9:00am to 5:00pm for the Law Courts Complex
    8:30am to 5:00pm for the Supreme Court Library
    9:00am to 4:00pm for the Court of Appeal registry.

    Can I bring a friend to court to help me?

    You will need to seek leave of the court if you would like a friend to assist you at the bar table (and you are self-represented).

    However, your friends can sit in the public gallery of the courtroom.

    What if I feel threatened or unsafe in the courthouse?

    You should tell the bailiff or security officer if you feel threatened or unsafe and they will make suitable arrangements.

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    Last reviewed
    22 June 2011
    Last updated
    28 March 2012

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