The Supreme Court recognises the important role that media organisations and their accredited representatives perform on behalf of the community in facilitating open justice. It is committed to assisting media organisations to ensure fair and accurate reporting of proceedings before the Court.
Please note: The Media Manager assists with media inquiries for the Supreme Court, the Land and Environment Court and the Industrial Relations Commission. Media inquiries for the District Court should be directed to that jurisdiction's Media Co-ordinator on (02) 9287 7359. Media inquiries for the Local Court, Coroner's Court, Children's Court and Drug Court should be directed to the Department of Communities and Justice spokesperson on 0484 012 391 or via email.
Access to court files and documents
Access will be granted to non-parties (including journalists) where existing guidelines, practice notes and laws support open access and where no competing principles intervene. Journalists are required to submit an Application to Access a Court File to the Court's Media Manager, who will organise for a Judge and/or Registrar to consider the request.
As a general rule, in ongoing civil matters the Court will generally grant access to originating processes, and to pleadings (e.g. Statement of Claim and Defence) before the matter goes to final hearing. Access will only be granted once all parties have filed pleadings with the court, and a matter has had its first return date. Journalists may also apply for documents which are read or tendered in open court during the course of the proceedings.
Once a civil matter is concluded journalists may apply to view the whole court file, and a decision will be made by a Registrar.
In criminal matters, the Court does not grant access to any documents or exhibits until the trial starts before a jury, or the accused has entered a plea of guilty and the matter proceeds to sentence hearing. This is in the interests of ensuring a fair trial. Please see the Media Guidelines below for more information.
The Court does not release any documents in Court of Appeal and Court of Criminal Appeal matters until the day of the appeal hearing. Documents tendered in bail hearings are generally not released to media as they contain untested allegations.
Electronic equipment in court
Journalists are permitted to use devices such as iPads, laptops and smart phones for the purposes of taking notes, but are not permitted to film or record any part of the proceedings. Court officers may ask journalists to provide media identification on some occasions.
Journalists can post on social media during court proceedings, provided they post only information or evidence presented to the jury, sentencing submission, or remarks on sentence, and that any non-publication orders are adhered to.
A Judge can direct journalists to stop using electronic devices or to refrain from posting on social media if necessary for the administration of justice.
Media representatives can apply to film criminal sentencing proceedings and final decisions in civil matters under the Court's
Media Recording and Broadcasting of Court Judgments Policy and Part 9A of the Supreme Court Act 1970. Please use the following Application Form (
PDF version I
Permission to film is granted by the Chief Justice, who may make further orders about the use of footage. Any footage can only be used to accompany media reports about that particular matter, and cannot be used as overlay on unrelated stories.
Generally, judgments of the
Court of Appeal and
Court of Criminal Appeal are all published on the New South Wales Caselaw website shortly after they are delivered. Exceptions include judgments arising from voir dire, bail or interlocutory proceedings.
The Supreme Court has publishes Judgment Summaries on the Court's website for matters of public interest and/or legal significance. Judgment Summaries are generally publicised via the Court's Twitter (@NSWSupCt) and Facebook accounts.
These guidelines have been provided to encourage and assist fair and accurate media reporting. They do not constitute legal advice and members of the media should obtain their own legal advice before reporting criminal proceedings
Media guidelines - reporting criminal proceedings
The Court has
developed guidelines to help journalists covering criminal trials. These
guidelines do not constitute legal advice and media should obtain separate
media advice if necessary.
Media interviews & comment
Judges cannot make public comment on their cases, either current or concluded. From time to time however, the Chief Justice and heads of divisions participate in media interviews regarding the general work of the court, new policies and improved practices. Journalists should contact the Court's
Media Manager with interview requests.
Non-publication & suppression orders
Court proceedings and documents can be suppressed or temporarily prohibited from publication by a legislative provision (for example, section 15A of the
Child (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987) or by the order of a judicial officer. The publication inadvertent or otherwise of suppressed information can have serious consequences for the administration of justice. For example, criminal trials can be prejudiced and even aborted, protected witnesses can be placed in danger, and commercially sensitive or confidential information can be revealed. The Court's Media Manager advises journalists and media lawyers when non-publication and suppression orders are made, varied or revoked. If there is any doubt regarding the suppression or non-publication of any proceedings or documents, please contact the Media Manager to opt-in to the non-publication orders
media distribution list.
Photos of Judges
Photos of Supreme Court Judges are not automatically released to media due to ever-charging security concerns. Media can request an official photo from the Court's Media Manager if one is available and approved. Photos of Judges used in media reports should show them fully robed and wigged (unless otherwise approved by the Court) because it offers some degree of anonymity. Media organisations are never permitted to film or photograph a Judge moving outside a Court complex, and should not use photos of Judges prior to them being appointed to the bench.
Online court lists
daily court list is updated at 3.30pm each day and displays matters listed for the next business day.
online court list allows journalists to search for a particular case by name, case number, location, date, jurisdiction, title of presiding officer and type of listing (for example, directions, hearing, judgment and so on). Journalists can search for cases listed up to two weeks in advance, and for previous listings that have occurred in the last seven days. The interactive online court list is refreshed every minute.
The Court operates a Twitter account (
Follow @NSWSupCt), a YouTube channel and a
Facebook account for news, judgment summaries, recent publications and general announcements.
Judicial speeches are delivered at
significant events, including the swearing-in of new judges, domestic and international conferences, and retirement ceremonies.
In accordance with
Practice Note SC Gen 2 Access to Court Files, only parties and their legal representatives are entitled to obtain transcripts from court proceedings. As a non-party to proceedings, media representatives are generally required to purchase transcripts. Information about
ordering a transcript can be found here, or by contacting the Court's
From time to time a Judge
may approve the release of some or all of a transcript to media, in the
interests of fair and accurate reporting, but this is not standard and media
are encouraged to attend court proceedings.