Esta was due to appear in court representing herself in relation to her property settlement. Esta, a migrant to Australia, speaks English as a second language and was particularly nervous about talking to the Judge, appropriate conduct for court and understanding the process.
Fortunately Esta had sought legal advice from Caxton Legal Centre about her legal matter before she was due to appear in court. Because of this Esta knew she could visit our duty lawyer on the day she was due in court.
Caxton’s duty lawyer advised Esta about the procedures and processes of the Court and answered her questions about how to speak to the Judge. Caxton’s lawyer reassured her that she could seek assistance for her matter again in future if needed.
Caxton’s duty lawyers regularly talk to the person or lawyer on the other side of our client’s matter. Clients who access this service can be confident that they are having their legal rights articulated and factored into the resolution of the situation.
Speaking to the duty lawyer about the formalities of court helped put Esta’s mind at ease and focus on the legal issues at hand. Thanks to Caxton Esta was more confident as she took on the task of self-representation.
Practical Tips for Self-represented Litigants
- Seek legal advice—there are many community legal centres and Legal Aid Queensland offices that provide free legal advice about the applicable law and procedural steps required to pursue or defend proceedings (see the Accessing Legal Assistance and Resolving Disputes chapter in the Queensland Law Handbook online).
- Sit in on a similar type of hearing—the rules of most courts and tribunals allow people to watch proceedings although sometimes the court or tribunal room will be closed to the public if a matter is sensitive.
- Access information from community legal centres, websites of courts or tribunals, or law libraries—the Supreme Court Library Queensland is open to the public.
- Make contact with a duty lawyer service, if one is available, on arrival at the court or tribunal on the day of a mention or a hearing to obtain assistance and legal advice; in the family law jurisdiction such a service is provided in the Family Law Courts, by Caxton Legal Centre and Legal Aid Queensland.
- Make enquiries about the correct manner of addressing the judicial officer to whom you will be required to speak (e.g. ‘Your Honour’ or ‘Registrar’).
Further information on family law proceedings for self-represented litigants is available via the Queensland Law Handbook online.