I'm thinking of representing myself

Most people who choose to represent themselves are either not able to afford a lawyer or want to exercise their legal rights and represent themselves. This page provides information to assist you in deciding how to manage your dispute.

Here you will be provided with procedural information, forms, and organisations that can help you. You should not take the information on this website as legal advice.

For an explanation of common legal terms and phrases, please see our glossary.

What will I need to do?

Representing yourself means you will need to:

  • pay court fees
  • prepare, file and serve court documents
  • gather evidence to support your case
  • locate and subpoena witnesses to support your case
  • present evidence in court
  • examine witnesses in court
  • argue your case before a judge.

Friends and family members can come with you to court. They cannot represent you in the Court.

The benefits of having a lawyer

It can be difficult for people to manage a court case without some help from a lawyer. A list of practitioners in your area can be found through the Law Institute of Victoria website.

There are many good reasons to have a lawyer represent you in Court. These include:

  • lawyers know the law and rules
  • lawyers understand legal language
  • lawyers are familiar with the Court process
  • lawyers are skilled in legal strategy and legal research
  • lawyers are experienced and pick up on things that may not be clear to you.

If you cannot afford a lawyer there may be free or low-cost services available to help you.

Visit I need help.

The stages of a civil case

A civil law case in the County Court can be complex and requires a number of steps to be completed before it can be heard at trial. This court hears many disputes that involve damages (compensation) or payment of a debt. The stages of a civil case are:

There are many forms, fees and legal rules you will need to familiarise yourself with if you do not have a lawyer to help you. Visit I need help for a list of ways you can get help.

I have decided to represent myself

You will need to be familiar with the following:


The Court has created an eight-minute video which takes you through major steps in a civil proceeding.

A transcript of the video is available here.

Representing yourself in a criminal case

If your case is a criminal matter please visit our Criminal Division page. It may also be helpful to contact Victoria Legal Aid on 1300 792 387 or visit www.legalaid.vic.gov.au.

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Page last updated: 28 July 2020