Public Officials Visiting Protocol
1. Purpose of protocol
To provide guidance on the processes for public officials that seek to visit or attend court buildings.
The approach taken in this protocol reflects the independence of the judiciary and the important role the judiciary play in our system of government.
2. Pre-entry approval required from Heads of Jurisdictions
If a public official wishes to attend a Court Services Queensland (CSQ) courthouse, their office must first inform the relevant head of jurisdiction and seek prior approval.
Section 18 of the Supreme Court of Queensland Act 1991 provides the Chief Justice with the power to control and manage (including access) to the Supreme Court precincts. This includes a court precinct occupied by the Supreme Court.
If the public official intends to bring additional staff such as aides, security, photographers or videographers, prior approval for these visitors must also be sought from the head of jurisdiction.
To inform the relevant head of jurisdiction of an intention to visit a CSQ court precinct, please email email@example.com for visits to the Supreme, District or Land Courts, or firstname.lastname@example.org for visits to the Magistrates Court.
If the head of jurisdiction approves a visit request, a CSQ senior manager will be appointed as a contact point to confirm visit arrangements with the public official’s office.
If a meeting with a judicial officer is required, it should be conducted in the judicial officer’s chambers.
Where ministers or ministerial staff (other than from the Attorney-General’s office) seek to meet with CSQ staff to discuss a particular matter and/or obtain information that is not of a routine administrative nature, such contact should only occur with the agreement of the Attorney-General as the Minister responsible for administering the Department of Justice and Attorney-General. See the Public Service Commission’s Protocols for communication between ministerial staff members and public service employees for further guidance.
3. Protocol on arrival to court precinct
The senior manager will arrange for the public official and other approved visitors to be met upon arrival at a CSQ court precinct and escorted to and from their host.
All entrants to CSQ court precincts are subject to the ‘Conditions of Entry’ prescribed under sections 21-21J and 23 of the State Buildings Protective Security Act 1983.
4. General Entry Provisions to a Court Precinct
A public official and additional staff on an approved visit may enter public areas and any open court in the court precinct. While being escorted they may also enter non-public areas of the court precinct.
5. Courtroom etiquette
A courtroom is under the control of the presiding Judicial Officer. Every person in a courtroom, including public officials and their staff are expected to comply with courtroom etiquette and must conduct themselves according to the court’s rules. Further information on courtroom etiquette can be found on CSQ’s website.
In special cases, a presiding Judicial Officer may order a court to be closed. If the court is closed, no visitors, including public officials and their staff on approved visits, will be allowed into proceedings.
6. Photographs and Recordings
Photographs or recordings are permitted outside of court precincts or in public areas of the court building. Recordings can include those that are made by electronic devices, such as a mobile phone or digital recorder.
It is not permitted to take photographs and recordings, in a courtroom.
If a public official intends to take photographs or recordings within a court precinct for commercial or publication purposes this should be raised with the senior manager during the pre-visit arrangements. In addition to seeking permission during pre-visit arrangements, the consent of individual CSQ staff or judicial member should be sought prior to any taking and publication of photographs or recordings of the individual.
Publication can include mainstream, official and social media platforms.
Proceedings in a courtroom are recorded in accordance with the Recording of Evidence Act 1962. Where a courtroom is equipped with recording equipment the recording may run continuously regardless of whether or not a legal proceeding is taking place in the courtroom. Access to recordings of matters in a courtroom that occur outside a legal proceeding is prohibited under s.11B of the Recording of Evidence Act 1962.
A building in which court operates, whether as an ongoing arrangement or from time to time or as a circuit arrangement.