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

There is a charge of $24.70 to access the CourtLink system. Please note you must do this search yourself as section 18 of the Magistrates' Court Act precludes staff from doing litigation searches.   Staff will log you onto the CourtLink system. 

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 can arrange this for you but in many cases it can't be done immediately. Each certified extract costs $47.70, and each charge requires a separate extract so the cost can add up quickly if a defendant has multiple charges.

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.

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