Court Etiquette and Procedures

Except in rare cases where the law requires otherwise, members of the public are welcome to attend Superior Court of Justice proceedings.

Before going to court, you should learn about the proper court etiquette and procedures. Please note the following:

At the courthouse:

  • For security purposes, you may be searched before entering the courthouse and/or before entering any particular courtroom. Some courthouses have metal detectors at their entrances and court security officers may ask to search your belongings, including briefcases, backpacks, and purses. Before arriving at the courthouse, make sure you do not have any pocket or utility knives or anything else that may be considered a weapon. These items may be confiscated, and you may be denied entry into the courthouse.
  • When you arrive at the courthouse, check the daily hearing list for the courtroom number and time. If the matter in which you are interested is not on the list, ask a member of the court staff to direct you to the counter where someone can look up where and when the matter is being heard.
  • Taking photographs anywhere in the courthouse is not allowed, unless a judge has given you permission to do so.

Inside the courtroom:

  • Most court proceedings are open to the public. If the judge has ordered that proceedings be held in camera (in private), a sign will be posted on the door. If you see a sign on the courtroom door saying that the proceeding is not open to the public, do not enter the courtroom.
  • Be on time. Because people entering and exiting the courtroom can be very distracting, you may be required to wait outside of the courtroom until an appropriate break in the proceedings.
  • When the courtroom is open, please find a seat in the gallery. Standing is generally not permitted in courtrooms.
  • Please turn off your cellphone or pager before entering the courtroom. Members of the public are not permitted to use electronic devices  (e.g. cellphones, cameras, recording devices etc.) in courtrooms unless the presiding judge orders otherwise. Counsel, parties, and members of the media may use electronic devices subject to certain conditions and restrictions. For more information, see the Court’s Use of Electronic Devices in the Courtroom.
  • When the judge enters the courtroom, everyone in the room must rise to show respect. Please rise and remain standing until the registrar invites you to be seated.
  • Please remain silent throughout the proceedings. If you need to speak to someone, please step outside the courtroom.
  • No food or beverages are allowed in the courtrooms.
  • Hats or headwear are not permitted except for religious reasons. Please also remove your sunglasses before entering the courtroom (unless they are required due to a medical condition).
  • You must stand whenever you speak to the judge or the judge speaks to you.
  • If you are addressing a judge or associate judge of the Superior Court of Justice, you should call him or her “Your Honour” or “Justice/Associate Justice (last name)”. Deputy judges should be called “Your Honour”.
  • Please do not lean on the chair in front of you or put your feet on the chairs.
  • Generally, each court has a lunch break, as well as a morning and an afternoon break. The timing of these breaks varies and is at the discretion of the judge.
  • Court staff are responsible for maintaining security and decorum in the courtroom. Please comply with any direction that they give you. If you fail to comply with any such direction, you may be asked to leave the courtroom.