Representing yourself in court


People can represent themselves in court. However, the law and court procedure can be complicated.


Getting legal advice

Before deciding whether to represent yourself, think about whether you would benefit from being legally represented.

It is a good idea to obtain legal advice ahead of time about your case. Some lawyers can provide coaching, which is a way of helping you to help yourself.

If you are trying to decide whether to represent yourself or have already decided to do so, it may help to research information about the law and the particular court where your case will be heard.

These are some useful resources:

LawAccess New South Wales

LawAccess NSW is a free government telephone service that provides legal information, referrals and in some cases, advice.

If you are going to court, have a legal problem or have a question about the law. Call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529.

LawAccess NSW can:

  • give you legal information over the telephone
  • send you written information
  • refer you to another legal or related service
  • in some cases, arrange for one of their lawyers to provide you with telephone legal advice.

The LawAccess NSW website is a great starting point to search for information about the law and legal issues. The representing yourself section of the website explains procedures and forms for court and tribunal cases. The information includes:

  • resources on a range of topics including debt (small claims); car accidents; Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs), fines and fence issues 
  • step-by-step guides to running your case
  • instructions for filling out court forms
  • checklists and frequently asked questions
  • information on alternatives to court
  • contacts for further information and advice


Legal Information Access Centre

The Legal Information Access Centre at the State Library of New South Wales provides legal answers, in plain language, to everyday questions about the law. Law librarians at the centre can help you find legal information relevant to your issue. The library has an extensive law collection, including legal text books, law journals, legislation and law reports.


Court or tribunal websites

Consult the website of the court or tribunal where your case will be heard. Most jurisdiction websites have information that can help you to prepare for specific types of court cases.

Among useful web resources are:


Legislation

Before representing yourself, you need to find out about the legislation and rules that apply to your case. You can research:


Uniform civil forms and rules

Some courts in New South Wales use a uniform set of forms for civil procedures. The forms and guides for using them can be found at the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules website.


Decisions and judgments

In some circumstances you might have to examine decisions to see how magistrates or judges have interpreted the laws and rules in similar matters.

For published judgments and decisions, see NSW Caselaw.


Practice and procedure

You may also need to know about the practices and procedures specific to the court where your case will be heard, such as the practice notes issued by the court.

These are links to:

As it can be difficult to know and understand all the laws and procedures that might apply in a particular case, it may be beneficial to consult a solicitor.


Can you bring a friend to support you in court?

You can have a support person sit with you in court. You need to ask permission of the magistrate or judge if you want a friend to speak on your behalf, and this is usually only at the hearing.

 

 

 

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Confused about court terms?  

Find the Legal Dictionary at LawAccess NSW.

What sentences do NSW courts give?

Get the latest statistics on criminal court charges and the sentences given from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research