Behaviour, conduct, etiquette in court

How are you expected to behave in a courtroom?

Judges and judicial justices make important decisions affecting people’s lives. Written and unwritten rules about behaviour in a courtroom help maintain an atmosphere that reflects the importance of those decisions. They also allow the judge or justice to listen to and concentrate on evidence and submissions without distractions.

How should I dress for court?
Dress neatly and respectfully but comfortably. Making sure that you, your witnesses, and your supporters are neatly dressed shows you respect the court process and understand that a court is a more formal setting.

For example:

  • don’t wear short shorts, tank tops, crop tops, 'muscle shirts', 'belly shirts' or bare feet
  • don’t wear clothing with disrespectful slogans or pictures
  • remove sunglasses, chewing gum, and baseball caps or other hats before going into a courtroom (religious headwear excepted)


  • leave food and drinks outside a courtroom
  • turn off cell phones before entering a courtroom

Behaviour when you attend court in person
Some of the rules for courtroom behaviour may seem very formal but they are intended to let everyone focus on the case being heard, and to ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

Be on time:

  • It’s normally a good idea to arrive early, go into the courtroom when it opens, and stay there until your case or name is called. If the courtroom is full, wait right outside it so you’ll hear your name paged and can respond quickly.

When your case is called:

  • Go to the front of the courtroom. Tell the judge your name. Stand until the judge tells you to sit.

During your case:

  • Stand when you speak and when the judge speaks to you.
  • Speak calmly and clearly. Don’t interrupt other people.
  • Never give a document or an exhibit directly to a witness or the judge. Tell the person you would like them to look at a document or thing and pass it to the Court Clerk.
  • If you do not understand some procedure, ask the judge. They will explain and try to give you reasonable assistance.
  • If you have questions for a lawyer or the other party, ask the judge. Do not talk directly to Crown Counsel, another lawyer, or a party when the judge is present. For example, if you want to know the name of the next Crown witness ask, “Your Honour, could Crown Counsel tell me the name of the next witness?”
  • Do not use swear words or offensive language unless it is a direct quote from the evidence and necessary for your submission.
  • Do not make facial expressions or gestures in response to things said during a trial. It can be distracting and may give the judge a poor impression. Tell your supporters not to do this.
  • Do not argue with the judge. Once a judge makes a decision, do not try to continue arguing. If you believe they are wrong, you can look into appealing the decision after the trial is over.

Behaviour when you attend court remotely
People appearing in court remotely by video-conference or telephone are expected to behave with the same dignity, formality, and respect for the proceedings as if they were physically in a courtroom.

When attending court remotely, people:

  • may not eat or drink anything except water
  • may not smoke or vape
  • may not audio- or video-record, photograph, or take a screenshot of any portion of a virtual or in-person proceeding
  • should make reasonable efforts to find a quiet, private space for their court appearance
  • should ensure their profile and background image are appropriate for a courtroom
  • if using a smartphone to participate remotely, should flip the phone horizontally and enable landscape mode so their full headshot displays

In addition, lawyers attending remotely must:

  • wear business attire
  • appear in a quiet, private space with a neutral background
  • have their cameras on for video-conference proceedings

See Notice NP 21 “Remote Attendance in the Provincial Court” for more on conduct when attending court proceedings remotely.

More information
What should I call a judge, judicial justice, judicial case manager, or justice of the peace?

How parties and lawyers should introduce themselves in court

Learning your way around a courtroom

Raising the bar for lawyers and litigants attending Provincial Court remotely

How should I conduct myself when I appear in front of a Judicial Case Manager?

Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms