People can represent themselves in court. However, the law and court procedures 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.
See the following for useful resources.
Call LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529.
Before starting any court proceedings you should check which court or tribunal is right for your matter. Call LawAccess NSW for help.
LawAccess NSW is a free government telephone service that provides legal information, referrals and in some cases, advice for people who have a legal problem in New South Wales.
The Representing yourself section of the LawAccess website can help you if you have a legal problem in New South Wales. Representing yourself explains legal procedures and forms for court and tribunal cases. It provides:
- step by step guides to starting and 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:
- Supreme Court guide to representing yourself
- Land and Environment Court information about representing yourself, including 'Litigants in person' publication.
Before representing yourself, you need to find out about the legislation and rules that apply to your case. You can research:
- New South Wales legislation at the NSW Government website NSW legislation
- Commonwealth and other state and territory legislation at the Australian Legal Information Institute (Austlii).
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:
- Supreme Court practice and procedure
- District Court policy and procedure
- Local Court practice and procedure
- Land and Environment Court practice and procedure
- NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal practice and procedure
- Dust Diseases Tribunal practice and procedure
- Industrial Relations Commission procedures and legislation.
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.