Information for the media
The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria is committed to working with the media to make the court open and transparent.
Hearings in the Magistrates’ Court are generally open to the public and media and may be reported in full. In some instances, it may be necessary for the presiding judicial officer to make orders limiting the access of the public and media to a court, or to material that is put before the court. This is to ensure hearings are conducted according to law and without disruption.
See the criminal offences page for information about the different types of criminal court hearings in the Magistrates’ Court.
To find a court hearing date, go to the find a court date page. Journalists can register for case tracking, which provides SMS and email updates on court dates. Details on intervention order hearings and matters subject to suppression orders are not publicly available.
The Magistrates’ Court does not publicly comment on government policy or matters that are still before the court. Journalists are asked not to directly contact judicial officers for interviews.
Requests for general comments about the Magistrates’ Court must be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video and photography
Video and photography is prohibited in court buildings without the written permission of the Magistrates’ Court. Journalists seeking videos or imagery within a court premises must email email@example.com.
The Magistrates’ Court can issue suppression orders, under the Open Courts Act 2013 to ensure hearings are conducted in accordance with the law and in the interests of justice.
Journalists can request to receive emailed notifications about new suppression orders by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parties are required to give three days’ notice of their intention to apply for a suppression order. These notifications are forwarded to media when received so outlets have the opportunity to be heard in relation to the application.
Requesting court documents
You can apply on the day of a hearing to view court documents by completing a request by media to access court documents form.
Court documents include, but are not limited to:
- charge and summons
- the prosecution summary
- a hand-up brief
- CCTV footage
- police statements.
The presiding judicial officer will decide if court documents will be released for inspection or copies provided via emailed PDF or photocopy. Photocopied documents are charged at 60c per page. The release of documents from the court file is always at the discretion of the presiding judicial officer.
If a request by media to access court documents form is not lodged during the court hearing, another hearing will need to be set to hear the application. Parties involved in the matter must have the application served on them.
This allows them to attend the hearing of the application. A registrar will send a copy of the application to the accused on behalf of the applicant as the address of an accused cannot be released without an order of the court.
Online Magistrates' Court
To access an online hearing contact the media team by emailing email@example.com.
Apply to view court documents by completing the request by media to access court documents form and emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than the day before the online hearing begins.
Refer to the Online Magistrates' court media guidelines for more information.
Searching the court register
The court register – a database containing information about charges, penalties and final orders – can be searched at any Magistrates’ Court venue. Section 18 of the Magistrates’ Court Act 1989 outlines what information can be accessed from the register. Only matters that have concluded can be searched.
It costs $25.30 to access the register. Notes can be taken from the information sighted. If a printed copy is required, a certified extract needs to be purchased and the cost is $48.80 per extract. Each extract contains only one charge.
Payment is made in person at the relevant Magistrates’ Court.
John Smith is seeking background information about a person who has appeared in court.
Mr Smith goes to his nearest Magistrates’ Court and pays $25.30 to search for the person’s name. The search reveals three previous outcomes. John decides he’d like a copy of each of the outcomes, requiring three certified extracts.
The cost of accessing the court register and printing the three extracts is $171.70 – $25.30 for the search fee and $146.40 for the three extracts.
Requesting audio recordings
Most criminal, civil, family law, family violence and victims of crime matters held in open court are recorded. Audio recordings are available for 12 months from the date of the hearing.
To get an audio recording, a completed request for copy of audio recording form must be emailed to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. The chief magistrate will review the request and advise of the outcome in writing.
If the request is granted, a fee of $55 – per audio recording – must be paid to the court. Audio recordings will not be provided unless the court has received payment. Payment can be made in person to the relevant Magistrates’ Court via money order or cash. Audio recordings are generally supplied within 14 days of the request.
See the Court Services website for more information.
Use of phones and electronic devices
Personal electronic devices cannot be used in a courtroom to:
- take photos
- record video and audio
- make or receive phone calls
- post to blogging or social media sites.
Reporters may be able to use electronic devices to take notes, subject to the approval of the presiding judicial officer.
Refer to the use of electronic devices policy for more information.
Magistrates’ Court media team
The media team is unable to provide information about charges, details of accused or the outcome of matters.
Phone: (03) 9032 0919
This is not a full list of legislation associated with this topic. See the Victorian Government's legislation website for more information.