Supreme Court of New South Wales

Access to court documents & exhibits

Access will be granted to non-parties (including journalists) where existing guidelines, practice notes and laws support open access and where no competing principles intervene.

Warning alert
Supreme Court Practice Note SC Gen 2 - Access to Court Files

A person may not search in a registry for, or inspect any document or thing in any procedings, except with leave of the court. The purpose of General Practice Note 2 is to prescribe the procedures surrounding the provision of access to court files.

    Information alert

    Journalists are required to submit an Application to Access (PDF, 841.2 KB) a Court File (PDF, 138.3 KB)​​ to the Court's Media Manager, who will organise for a Judge and/or Registrar to consider the request.

    Civil matters

    As a general rule, in ongoing civil matters the Court will generally grant access to originating processes, and to pleadings (e.g. Statement of Claim and Defence) before the matter goes to final hearing. Access will only be granted once all parties have filed pleadings with the court, and a matter has had its first return date. Journalists may also apply for documents which are read or tendered in open court during the course of the proceedings

    Once a civil matter is concluded journalists may apply to view the whole court file, and a decision will be made by a Registrar.

    Criminal matters

    In criminal matters, the Court does not grant access to any documents or exhibits until the trial starts before a jury, or the accused has entered a plea of guilty and the matter proceeds to sentence hearing. This is in the interests of ensuring a fair trial. Please see the Media Guidelines below for more information.

    The Court does not release any documents in Court of Appeal and Court of Criminal Appeal matters until the day of the appeal hearing. Documents tendered in bail hearings are generally not released to media as they contain untested allegations.

    Information alert
    Criminal Procedure Act 1986, s 314

    The documents that a media representative is entitled to inspect under this section are copies of the indictment, court attendance notice or other document commencing the proceedings, witnesses’ statements tendered as evidence, brief of evidence, police fact sheet (in the case of a guilty plea), transcripts of evidence and any record of a conviction or an order.

    (Criminal Procedure Act 1986 (NSW) s 314 (2))

    Last updated:

    12 Jan 2024

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