Demystifying the Courtroom

We are involved in matters that are in either the Federal Circuit Court or the Family Court on a regular basis. As we attend court so often, we are used to the Court room “players” and the lingo. We appreciate however, that not everyone is as comfortable in these environments, so this blog is aimed at giving you an understanding of who is in the Court room and how they should be referred to.

The Judge:

  • If the matter is in the Family Court, the Judge is referred to in writing as the Honourable Justice LAST NAME.
  • If the matter is in the Federal Circuit Court, the Judge is referred to in writing as Judge LAST NAME.
  • When speaking to the judge, the lawyers will say “Your Honour”. When speaking about the Judge, the lawyers will say “His/Her Honour”. If there is a need to refer to more than one judge, “their Honours” is used.

The Associate:

  • The person (or persons) sitting in front of the Judge is an Associate. This person is there to assist the Court and will announce each case before it starts.
  • The Associate will not generally speak during the proceedings, however may have a discreet conversation with the Judge about Court dates or timings etc.

The lawyers/barristers:

  • The lawyers/barristers will be referred to as follows:
    • By the Judge: Mr/Ms/Dr LAST NAME;
    • By the other lawyer/barrister when speaking to the Judge: My Friend, My Colleague, My Learned Friend. This doesn’t mean the two lawyers are actually friends, it is a sign of respect and professionalism.
  • When the lawyer/barrister “introduces” themselves to the Court, they will say “May it please the Court, Mr/Ms/Dr LAST NAME, appearing for the Applicant/Respondent/Mother/Father/Independent Children’s Lawyer.”

The witness:

  • If you or another person is a witness in the case, they will be asked to sit in the “witness box” up near the Judge.
  • While being questioned, the witness will be referred to as Mr/Ms/Dr LAST NAME.
  • A witness should never be referred to by their first name or any other title.

It is important to seek legal advice before appearing in Court to ensure that you have the best chance of success.

We are family law experts and are experienced at dealing with family law matters.

If you have a Court matter scheduled, please get in touch to see if we can help you.
Canberra Office