As an Observer

It should be noted that legal proceedings are, generally speaking, matters of public record. Therefore, ordinarily, a member of the public is entitled to walk in off the street and sit in the gallery to observe the proceedings.

There are, however, some basic rules that one must follow when attending Court. For example, the method of dress is most important. Also, it is important that when attending a Court hearing, be it trial or just a matter being brought up for “mention” (for hearing by the Court in the course of preparation for possible trial), that you have your electronic devices turned off. If it is not feasible for them to be turned off, then they must be muted, placed on vibrate mode or silent. At no point must there be an interruption in the Court proceedings by sounds made by electronic devices. To do so will almost certainly render you in contempt of Court, and liable to whatever penalties the Court may see fit to impose.

As an observer, you are not to speak unless addressed by the Court. Only then can you speak to the Court. Remember that you are an observer, primarily, not a participant, and as such, your main sense in operation is your sight, not your sounds. The same principle of the electronic device applies to the individual’s own expressions. “Silence in Court” is the watchword.

These principles apply to the Magistrate’s Court, Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeal.