Services & support

Representing yourself

​Things to consider

People may represent themselves in the Supreme Court. However, our laws and court procedures can be complicated.

You may wish to take the following points into account before choosing to represent yourself in the Supreme Court.

  • If you do not have legal training, you might make mistakes that would jeopardise your case.
  • It is a good idea to obtain legal advice ahead of time to ensure that you are doing the right thing.
  • Some lawyers can provide coaching which is way of helping you to help yourself. This is different from and cheaper than hiring a lawyer to represent you.

You may also wish to consider the following questions:

  • What outcome are you seeking from the case?
  • Do you have the time and energy to conduct a case by yourself?
  • Are you able to do the necessary research for your case?

Can a friend sit with you?

You will need to ask the permission from the judge hearing your matter if you want to have a friend sit with you to assist you in presenting your case to the court.

Resources

Where to get legal advice and information - information about the different types of legal advice and information available.

You may also wish to access the following websites:

  1. LawAccess website -  provides information to people who choose to represent themselves in court.
  2. NSW legislation: NSW law online for legislation and regulations.
  3. Caselaw: judgments in previous cases.

Things to remember when you represent yourself

When you are in court you are trying to persuade a judge or jury that you are right. The following outlines some tips on conduct and procedure.

  • Be prepared. Know what evidence you need to prove your case. If possible, consult with a Solicitor before you come to court to obtain advice on how to present your case, what questions to ask, and other matters.
  • Bring to court all relevant documents, including any physical evidence and witnesses that will help prove your claim or defend against the claim. You need to bring at least three copies of documents (one for you, one for the other party, one for the judge.)
  • If a witness refuses to testify, you can subpoena them to attend, (order them to come to court). Make sure you give at least five clear days in advance of your hearing date if you are issuing a subpoena to give evidence.
  • Be on time. The court has a very busy daily schedule. If you are not in court when your case is called, and the other party is present, you might have a default judgment entered against you or the case may be dismissed. If neither party is on time, your case might be stood down in the list and you might have to wait until the very end of the court session before your case is called again. You might even have to come back on another day.
  • Structure your arguments in a logical way and follow all rules of procedure appropriate for your case.
  • Speak slowly and clearly in court. Listen carefully to the questions you are asked in court. If you do not understand something or did not hear the question ask the judge to repeat or rephrase it for you.
  • Wait for your turn to speak. Do not interrupt the judge or the other party. The judge wants to hear from each party, and each person wants and needs an opportunity to speak without interruption. If you interrupt others in court, the judge will stop you and instruct you to wait your turn.
  • Speak loudly and clearly so everyone in the courtroom can hear you. The judge needs to properly assess the facts you are putting forward, and the other party needs to respond accurately to your statements.
  • Remember to turn off your mobile phone when you are in the courtroom.