Access to charges, documents and sentence information

While Magistrates’ Court hearings are generally open to the public and may be reported in full, journalists don’t have automatic rights to access information from a court file, including charges, statements or tendered materials.

The release of this information is always at the discretion of the presiding magistrate.

Journalists must complete and lodge the appropriate application form with the bench clerk or court registrar and this must be signed and approved by the magistrate before any information can be provided. Court staff or members of the Media team can’t provide this information over the phone.

Charges apply for copies of documents and certified extracts. The list of current Magistrates’ Court fees can be found HERE.

Request by non-party for inspection of court documents

Journalists who wish to inspect or obtain a copy of charge sheets, the prosecution summary, a hand-up brief, photos, CCTV footage, statements as tendered or other documents need to complete and submit a Request by non-party for inspection of court documents form. Click HERE to access the forms page.

This form should be handed to the registry, ideally before the start of the proceeding.

If approved by the magistrate, there is no charge to inspect the documents. Photocopies are charged at 60c per page.

Accessing the court register for final orders

Journalists can attend any court venue and ask to search the court register to view final orders. Final orders include charge information and the court outcome, including any financial penalties or sentences.

You can do the search yourself, for which there is a charge of $24.30 to access the CourtLink system. This is the quickest and easiest way to access the information.

Court staff will log you in and you can then search for the relevant matters. Please note: there is no facility to print information from the system and you will need to take notes of the information you need.

If you require a printout of the court order, you must pay for a certified extract. Court staff will be required to do this search for you and in most cases it can't be done immediately.

To access a certified extract you must first fill out a Request for a litigation search form.  Each name you search costs $24.30. Please note court staff will search on the spelling provided on the form so please ensure it is correct.  

This search will identify the number of charges a person has recorded in CourtLink and you can then decide if you want to go ahead and order a certified extract. Each charge is listed separately in our system so a separate certified extract has to printed for each.  Each certified extract costs $46.90 so the cost can add up quickly if a defendant has multiple charges.

If you cannot attend at a court registry to search yourself, you will need to fill in the Request for litigation search form, and send it to the registrar of the relevant court, enclosing a money-order for the initial search fee. You will then be advised how many charges are listed, and the cost of obtaining certified extracts.

Contact details of all courts can be found HERE.

How can I find out information if I am unable to attend court?

Obtaining information from a court file takes more time if an application is not lodged during the court hearing as a copy of the application needs to be served on all parties so they can attend the hearing of the application.

There is a fee for the search, inspection, retrieval or access to a court file. A fee also applies to photocopying documents (if allowed by the presiding judicial officer).

The list of current Magistrates’ Court fees can be found HERE