Queen Elizabeth at the opening of the High Court of Australia

Court etiquette

All oral arguments in the High Court are open to the public, subject to seating being available. For larger groups, such as schools, the Court Guides on duty at the doors of the courtroom will divide the group into manageable parties of approximately 20 (plus at least one teacher) before being admitted. When seating is in demand, only one group at a time will be allowed in the courtroom. To contain the flow of people in and out of the courtrooms, and as a mark of respect to the Court, visitors are requested to remain in the courtroom for at least 10 minutes.

Visitors should be aware that some cases attract large crowds or a large group of people might want to enter a courtroom in session at the same time. Sometimes there are unavoidable delays associated with processing and seating large numbers of visitors and your cooperation and patience are appreciated. Court Guides will make every effort to explain the protocol of the Court and inform you as soon as possible whether you can expect to secure a seat in the courtroom.

The High Court building closes to the public each day at 4.30 pm, but if a particular courtroom is still in session after that time you have a right of access to that courtroom – again providing there is seating available.

When you visit the High Court we request your cooperation in respecting our restrictions and requirements for visitors. Court Guides are stationed around the Public Hall and will advise you of courtroom protocol.

It is customary, as a matter of respect to the Court when it is in session, that you bow on entry into the courtroom and again on leaving. Please remain silent while inside the courtroom and in the area immediately outside its entrance. We do not recommend bringing infants or very young children into the courtroom while the Court is in session.

We ask that you do not take any of the following items into the courtrooms when the Court is in session: cameras, radios, pagers, tape players, tape recorders, mobile phones or any other electronic equipment. These items are to be surrendered at the door and a receipt will be given. Newspapers, and other documents that may cause a disruptive rustling, are also not allowed in the courtrooms.

Inappropriate clothing may not be worn. You should be adequately and neatly dressed, including footwear. Large bags, backpacks and the like are to be surrendered at the door or left with the Court Guide at the main entrance to the Public Hall (Level 2).

Smoking is prohibited throughout the building. Food and drink may only be consumed in the cafeteria or outside the building, except at functions.