People can represent themselves in court. However, the law and court procedures can be complicated.
In the Land and Environment Court, unrepresented litigants will be treated with courtesy and compassion. However, judges, commissioners and other court officers are restricted in the amount and type of assistance they can give to an unrepresented litigant.
On this page you will find useful links to information that might help you represent yourself.
Getting legal advice
Forms and fees
Decisions and judgments
Practice, procedure and policies
Can I come in and have a look at a typical hearing at the Court?
Can I bring a friend to support me in court?
Before deciding whether to represent yourself, think about whether you would benefit from being legally represented. Information is available on
getting legal advice and assistance.
It is a good idea to obtain legal advice ahead of time about your case. Some lawyers can provide coaching, which is a way of helping you to help yourself.
If you are trying to decide whether to represent yourself or have already decided to do so, it may help to research information about the law and the Land and Environment Court. The Court’s website contains a lot of information that may assist you. Some important resources are explained below.
Pilot Duty Lawyer Scheme
A duty lawyer scheme will be trialled in the Land and Environment Court for a 6 month period commencing 6 April 2018.
The pilot scheme is the result of a collaboration between the EPLA, the EDO, NSW Law Society Young Lawyers Environment and Planning Committee, Macquarie University Law School and practitioners from the Court Users Group.
The pilot scheme is aimed at assisting self-represented litigants in Classes 4 and 5 of the Court's jurisdiction. If it proves successful it may be broadened to other Classes or types of proceedings in the Court.
A duty lawyer will be available on Level 4 between 9am and 12 noon each Friday to provide preliminary advice to self-represented litigants with a view to guiding them through the Court process and referring them to appropriate services.
Before representing yourself, you need to find out about the legislation and rules that apply to your case. You can research:
NSW legislation at the
NSW Government website on NSW legislation
Commonwealth and other State and Territory legislation on the
Australian Legal Information Institute (Austlii) site.
Read about the
legislation covering the areas over which the Land and Environment Court has jurisdiction.
Court legislation and rules are the
Land and Environment Court Act 1979,
Land and Environment Court Rules 2007,
Civil Procedure Act 2005and
Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 2005.
You can find the forms you will need for your proceedings in the Court, and the fees you will have to pay to the Court on the
forms and fees pages.
In some circumstances, you might have to examine decisions to see how judges or commissioners have interpreted and applied the laws and rules in similar matters. For published judgments and decisions, see
The practice and procedure for proceedings in the Court varies depending on the type of proceedings. Detailed information is available on the Court’s website in the pages on
types of cases.
You may also need to know about the practices and procedures specific to the Land and Environment Court, such as the
practice notes issued by the Court. Information on the Court’s practice notes and
policies is available at
Practice and procedure.
As it can be difficult to know and understand all the laws and procedures that might apply in a particular case, it may be beneficial to consult a lawyer.
The Land and Environment Court also publishes
planning principles. A planning principle is a statement, contained in a judgment of the Court, of general or specific principle stating a list of criteria, questions or steps to be considered in making particular decisions. Planning principles are intended to promote consistency in decision-making by the Court, and to assist councils and other decision-makers as well as architects, planners and developers to understand the principles which will be applied by the Court in the ordinary course.
Yes. All Land and Environment Court hearings are open to members of the public. It is a good idea if you are going to represent yourself, to come in and have a look at a typical hearing. This will give you a 'feel' for the court room environment and help you to better understand court processes. You should consult the daily
Court Lists on the afternoon prior to your visit to determine what matters are being heard and their start times.
You can have a support person sit with you in court. You need to ask permission of the commissioner or judge if you want a friend to speak on your behalf, and this is usually only at the hearing. At the Land and Environment Court, you can be represented by an
agent in certain cases but you will need to seek leave from the Court.
Litigants in Person Guide
Service of Documents - A guide for Self-Represented Litigants
A guide to subpoenas
A Practitioner’s Guide to the Land and Environment Court
Practice Notes and Practice Directions
Judicial speeches and papers