Getting ready for court

Going to court can be a confusing experience, particularly if it your first time.

Whether you have started a court case against someone or someone has started a court case against you, this topic can help you get ready for court.  

This topic has information about:​

    Tim​​e limits

    If you want to start a case, defend a case or appeal a decision, you must do certain things within a certain time. These are called time limits. Each area of law has specific time limits for different things.

    This section covers:

    • Starting a case
    • Defending a case
    • Appealing a decision
    • Extensions of time.

    For more information, see Time limits.

    Courts and tribunals

    The Australian legal system is made up of different courts and tribunals both at a state level and federal level.

    The court or tribunal you need to go to, will depend on the nature of your dispute and the value of the claim.

    This section covers:

    • State courts
    • Federal courts
    • High court of Australia
    • Tribunals.

    For more information, see Courts and tribunals.

    Researching the law

    Doing some research about your legal problem can help you understand how the law applies to your situation. By doing your research, you can better prepare your case and have confidence in the courtroom.

    This section covers:

    • Statute law
    • Common law
    • Legal information.

    For more information, see Researching the law.

    Gathering evidence

    Before you go to court, you should gather evidence that supports your case.

    This section covers:

    • How courts and tribunals decide cases
    • Evidence
    • Rules of evidence
    • Burden of proof.

    For more information, see Gathering evidence.

    Managing your case

    Being organised will help you prepare your case, allow you to find documents quickly and ensure your court case runs as smoothly as possible.

    This section covers:

    • Gather your evidence
    • Prepare a chronology  
    • Keep copies of everything
    • Keep a record of important dates
    • Keep a file of court documents
    • Notify others of your change of address

    For more information, see Managing your case.

    Arranging interpreters

    If you have difficulty speaking or understanding English, or you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment, there are services that can help you before and at court.

    This sections covers:

    • Contacting an interpreting service before you go to court
    • Getting an interpreter for court
    • Cost of an interpreter.

    For more information, see Arranging interpreters.

    Arranging access for people with disabilities

    If you have a disability and need to go to court, there are a number of services that can help you.

    This section covers:

    • Information before going to court
    • Services available for travelling to court
    • Services available in court
    • How to request assistance.

    For more information, see Arranging access for people with disabilities.

    What to do, say and wear in court

    Going to court for the first time can be confusing.  

    This section covers:

    • What to do in court
    • What to say
    • What to wear.

    For more information, see What to do, say and wear in court.

    Legal costs

    When you go to court you may have to pay some legal costs.

    This section covers:

    • Costs in courts and tribunals
    • Orders to pay costs
    • Understanding common costs orders
    • How to apply for a costs assessment.

    For more information, see Legal costs.


    If you are unhappy with the decision made by a court or tribunal, you may be able to appeal the decision.

    This section covers:

    • What is an appeal?
    • Time limits
    • Who decides an appeal?

    For more information, see Appeals.


    For answers to commonly asked questions about getting ready for court, see Frequently asked questions. ​​