Representing yourself in court

Victorian woman prepares to represent herself in court

This information relates to laws in Victoria, Australia.

People often represent themselves in court because they feel they cannot afford a lawyer or they think they don't need one.

If you can't resolve your legal problem outside court, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice as early as possible and use a lawyer to run your case.

Have you tried alternative dispute resolution services first?

Before taking legal action, it's a good idea to try to resolve it outside court. There are free or low-cost dispute resolution services that will save you the cost and time of a court action.

The Dispute Settlement Centre and Victoria Legal Aid's Family Mediation service are just two organisations who offer free mediation services.

For other alternative dispute resolution services see our Ombudsmen and Mediation pages.

Why do I need a lawyer?

There are good reasons why it is better to have a lawyer represent you:

  • understanding how the courts work and how to prepare a case is complicated
  • the process is time-consuming and can be disruptive to your life
  • arguing your case in court can be very stressful
  • you are more likely to get a positive outcome than if you represent yourself
  • if you lose a case the consequences can be serious and can lead to a prison sentence.

If you cannot afford a lawyer

If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may be eligible for legal assistance from Victoria Legal Aid or your local community legal centre. Visit: Free or low cost legal services for more information about their services.

Help if you have to represent yourself

If you are not eligible for legal assistance from Victoria Legal Aid or a community legal centre, there are support services and resources to help you understand what's involved in going to court. For example, court processes, forms you need to fill out and what to expect at court.

If you are not sure about the court or tribunal that deals with your issue, visit our Courts and tribunals page for more information.

Court support services

Each court has its own support services to help people going to court but they cannot give you legal advice on your case. It is always best to seek legal advice before attending court. Contact the registrar at the court you are attending for more details.

Court Network

Court Network is a volunteer court support service that offers information, support and referral services, either in person or by telephone, about going to court. It does not provide legal advice.

1800 681 614 (free call)

Everyday-Law recommends

External website

Information about how to prepare a case if you are representing yourself in court. It includes useful resources and important issues to consider.

Published: 2015

External website

Information about representing yourself in the Supreme Court of Victoria if you plan to start or defend a legal action or appeal a court or tribunal decision. Includes self-help information packs.

Published: 2016

This page was last updated on October 31, 2017