Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What is the role of the Supreme Court of Canada?
  2. What is the Court's contact information?
  3. Can we visit the Supreme Court Building?
  4. During our visit to the Supreme Court, would it be possible to take pictures of various parts of the Court building?
  5. What are the Court's opening hours?
  6. Are hearings open to the public?
  7. Are Supreme Court proceedings televised or Webcast and and how can I obtain a copy of a hearing transcript and/or video?
  8. How many judges sit on the Supreme Court of Canada? What are their names?
  9. How many judges are assigned to hear a case?
  10. How does one address a judge?
  11. What is the annual salary of a Supreme Court Judge?
  12. How are judges chosen for the Supreme Court of Canada?
  13. How do I file a complaint against a judge?
  14. How is a case brought before the Supreme Court of Canada?
  15. Where can I find information for self-represented litigants at the Supreme Court of Canada?
  16. Can Supreme Court of Canada staff answer any legal questions I may have?
  17. What do these expressions mean?
  18. Do I need a lawyer to prepare and file documents in the Supreme Court of Canada?
  19. What are the deadlines for filing documents?
  20. How can I find out if a judgment from a Court of Appeal is being challenged?
  21. How do I find out the status of a case?
  22. When can I expect to learn of the Court's decision in a leave application or an appeal?
  23. Can I be notified when a Supreme Court of Canada decision is rendered?
  24. How do I obtain a copy of a judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada or a subscription to the Canada Supreme Court Reports?
  25. Are judgments, news releases and bulletins available on the Internet?
  26. How reliable are the decisions on the Université de Montréal's site?
  27. Can I find a bilingual copy of an SCC decision?
  28. Can I access Supreme Court of Canada court records on line?
  29. Can I obtain photographs of judges of the Supreme Court of Canada or of the Supreme Court Building for the purposes of publication?
  30. I would like to make my opinion known on a pending case. How can I participate?
  31. Why can't I connect to the Supreme Court's library catalogue?
  32. Is your library's catalogue Z39.50 compliant? How can I connect to it?
  33. Where can I look for employment opportunities with the Supreme Court of Canada?
  34. How can a person be considered for a position as a law clerk/student articling position?
  35. Where can I obtain information on a divorce granted in Canada?
  36. I was born in Canada. How can I get a copy of my birth certificate?
  37. Is the Supreme Court of Canada Website designed to apply Common Look and Feel standards?
  38. Where may I obtain information about the Supreme Court of Canada in a language other than English or French?
  39. Where may I obtain information about the Supreme Court of Canada in braille?

1. What is the role of the Supreme Court of Canada?

The Supreme Court of Canada is the court of last resort (or the highest court) in Canada. As the final general court of appeal it is the last judicial resort of all litigants. Its jurisdiction embraces both the civil law of the province of Quebec and the common law of the other nine provinces and three territories. As it is a general court of appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada can hear cases in all areas of the law.

2. What is the Court's contact information?

Address
Supreme Court of Canada
301 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0J1


Telephone
: 613-995-4330 or 1-888-551-1185
Fax: 613-996-3063
Teletypewriter: 613-944-7985
Email
reception@scc-csc.ca

3. Can we visit the Supreme Court Building?

Yes. Please see the Guided Tours page for all the details.

4. During our visit to the Supreme Court, would it be possible to take pictures of various parts of the Court building?

Yes, it is possible to take pictures of the public areas such as the main lobby and the courtroom when the Court is not sitting.

Photographs that you take can be used only for personal or educational purposes.  They cannot be used for commercial or promotional purposes unless permission for such use is first obtained from the Deputy Registrar by sending a request to that effect by email at reception@scc-csc.ca.

5. What are the Court's opening hours?

The Court is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. The Registry of the Court is open every day except holidays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

6. Are hearings open to the public?

The public may attend the Court's hearings. To find out when the Court will be sitting, check the Court's list of scheduled hearings. Hearings normally begin at 9:30 a.m, however the Court may start at 9:00 a.m without prior public notice.

7. Are Supreme Court proceedings televised or Webcast and how can I obtain a copy of a hearing transcript and/or video?

Most courtroom proceedings are Webcast live and are later televised by the Canadian Parliamentary Affairs Channel (CPAC). CPAC posts its schedule at its site: http://www.cpac.ca. To obtain a copy of a transcript for personal use, contact the Records Centre either by email at records-dossiers@scc-csc.ca or by telephone at 613-996-7933 or at 1-888-551-1185. To request permission to use a video recording or Webcast of a hearing of the Court or to request a copy on DVD for personal, commercial or educational purposes, please fill out the on-line Request to Use Supreme Court of Canada Photographs, Videos or Webcasts. Live and archived Webcasts of appeal hearings are available on the Court Website.

8. How many judges sit on the Supreme Court of Canada? What are their names?

The Supreme Court of Canada consists of nine judges, including the Chief Justice of Canada. Their names are:

9. How many judges are assigned to hear a case?

On appeals, the minimum number of judges is five though more often seven or nine judges hear a case. For applications for leave to appeal, three judges review the written application and render a decision.

10. How does one address a judge?

At the hearing, counsel may use either "Justice", "Mr. Justice" or "Madam Justice," when addressing the members of the panel hearing the appeal. Counsel are asked to refrain from addressing the judges as "My Lord", "My Lady", "Your Lordship," or "Your Ladyship."

In writing, the Chief Justice is addressed as "The Right Honourable" and the other judges are addressed as "The Honourable Madam Justice" or as "The Honourable Mr. Justice".

11. What is the annual salary of a Supreme Court Judge?

Visit the Remuneration section on the Office of the Commisioner for Federal Judicial Affairs Canada Website.

12. How are judges chosen for the Supreme Court of Canada?

The Supreme Court of Canada consists of nine judges, including the Chief Justice of Canada, who are appointed by the Governor in Council and all of whom must have been either a judge of a superior court or a member of at least ten years' standing of the bar of a province or territory. A Judge holds office during good behaviour, until he or she retires or attains the age of 75 years, but is removable for incapacity or misconduct in office before that time by the Governor General on address of the Senate and House of Commons. Of the nine, the Supreme Court Act requires that three be appointed from Quebec. Traditionally, the federal government appoints three Judges from Ontario, two from the West, and one from Atlantic Canada.

13. How do I file a complaint against a judge?

You must first determine whether your complaint is about a decision of a judge or the conduct of a judge. If it is about the decision of a judge, contact a lawyer, legal aid office or community legal clinic to determine whether or not you might be able to appeal the decision. A Faculty of Law at a nearby University may also have a program to provide legal assistance.

If you have a complaint about the conduct of a Supreme Court of Canada judge, you should write to the Canadian Judicial Council, Suite 450, 112 Kent Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0W8, fax 613-998-8889 providing the details of the conduct which is of concern to you. For additional information visit the Canadian Judicial Council Web site.

If the complaint is about the conduct (but not a decision) of a judge from another court, contact the court staff, where the judge sits, in order to determine whether you should bring your complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council or to provincial or territorial officials.

14. How is a case brought before the Supreme Court of Canada?

In most cases, appeals are heard by the Court only if leave to appeal is given. Such leave, or permission, will be given by the Court when a case involves a question of public importance.

There are cases, however, where leave is not required. In criminal cases, there is an automatic right of appeal where an acquittal has been set aside in the provincial court of appeal or where one judge in the provincial court of appeal dissents on a question of law. In addition, the Supreme Court of Canada has a special kind of "Reference" jurisdiction, original in character, given by s. 53 of the Supreme Court Act. The Governor in Council (federal government) may refer to the Court, for its opinion, constitutional or other questions.

15. Where can I find information for self-represented litigants at the Supreme Court of Canada?

You can access such information at the Resources for Self-Represented Litigants portal. This portal provides information and instructions on what is expected of you when you want to bring your own application for leave to appeal or when you have been named as a respondent on an application for leave to appeal.

16. Can Supreme Court of Canada staff answer any legal questions I may have?

Our office is not allowed to provide legal advice. You should contact a lawyer, Legal Aid Office in your area or a community legal clinic for advice.

17. What do these expressions mean?

Affidavit:
A written document of a statement of facts, confirmed by oath or affirmation of the party making it.
Appeal:
A proceeding in which a case is brought before a higher court to have it review a lower court's judgment and to convince it that the lower court's judgment was incorrect.
Appeal allowed:
The Court has decided in favour of the Appellant (party bringing the appeal).
Appeal dismissed:
The Court has decided in favour of the Respondent (party against whom the appeal is brought) and against the Appellant.
Application for leave to appeal:
The procedure for requesting the Court's permission to hear the appeal.
Factum:
The name of the document filed on appeal by the parties and Interveners. It is in seven parts containing a concise overview of their position and a statement of facts, questions in issue, arguments, submissions (if any) in support of the order sought concerning costs, the order or orders sought, a table of authorities and provisions of any statute, regulation, rule, ordinance or by-law relied on.
Judgment:
The decision of the Court.
Judgment reserved:
The decision of the Court has not been given at the hearing, but is postponed until a future date.
Memorandum of Argument on Application for Leave to Appeal:
Part of the application for leave to appeal, the response or the reply filed by or on behalf of parties to an application for leave to appeal. These memorandums on leave set out the facts, the questions in issue and legal arguments.
Motion:
A formal request to a judge, the Court or the Registrar to take some action, e.g to extend the time to serve and file an application for leave to appeal. 
Transcript:
A written copy of the oral proceedings of the Court.

18. Do I need a lawyer to prepare and file documents in the Supreme Court of Canada?

Although you may represent yourself at the Supreme Court of Canada, we recommend that you retain a lawyer because the procedures are complex. If you are not a lawyer, you may only represent yourself.

19. What are the deadlines for filing documents?

For documents required at the various stages of an application for leave to appeal or of an appeal, or in respect of a motion to a judge or the Registrar or to the Court, see the time limits for filing documents.

20. How can I find out if a judgment from a Court of Appeal is being challenged?

You may contact the Registry office by phone at 613-996-8666 or by email at registry-greffe@scc-csc.ca. Please provide the Registry Officer with either the names of the parties or the file number from the Court of Appeal. You can also search our SCC Case Information database using various criteria.

21. How do I find out the status of a case?

You can search our SCC Case Information database using various criteria or call a Registry Officer at 613-996-8666.

22. When can I expect to learn of the Court's decision in a leave application or an appeal?

Decisions on leave applications are rendered on average 3 months after the leave application is filed. Judgments on appeals are rendered on average 6 months after the hearing of the appeal.

23.Can I be notified when a Supreme Court of Canada decision is rendered?

Yes. To be notified of the release of judgments in appeals and in applications for leave to appeal, you may subscribe to Lexum's mailing list or follow the Supreme Court of Canada on Twitter in English (@SCC_eng) or in French (@CSC_fra). You will also be informed of appeals that will be heard.

24. How do I obtain a copy of a judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada or a subscription to the Canada Supreme Court Reports?

Free electronic copies of the judgments are available. However, an individual judgment costs $15 and can be obtained by filling out the Request for Court Records form.

If you have questions and wish to speak to a Records Centre employee by telephone, dial 613-996-7933 or toll free at 1-844-365-9662.

An annual subscription to the Canada Supreme Court Reports costs $350.00 plus applicable GST/HST. The price for individual parts is $40. To subscribe to a print copy of the Canada Supreme Court Reports, use the subscription form.

If you have further questions, contact:

Library
Supreme Court of Canada
301 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0J1
Phone: (613) 996-8437
Fax: (613) 991-0258
Email: scr-rcs@scc-csc.ca

Access a PDF copy of the Canada Supreme Court Reports at no cost.

25. Are judgments, news releases and bulletins available on the Internet?

Yes. In 1994, the Supreme Court of Canada began collaborating with the Université de Montréal's research team Lexum to make judgments, news releases and bulletins available on the Internet free of charge. Lexum continues to be the main public source for judgments, news releases and bulletins.

In the event of problems or errors found in these resources, you should contact Lexum staff directly by email at support@lexum.com or by toll-free telephone at 1-855-316-2100.  

26. How reliable are the decisions on the Université de Montréal's site?

All efforts are made both by the Court and by the Lexum team to ensure that the documents posted on the Lexum SCC Judgments Internet site are as accurate as possible. Nevertheless, certain observations should be made.

  1. Recent judgments
    Judgments rendered by the Court are posted immediately. However, these judgments may undergo revisions before being published in the Canada Supreme Court Reports (S.C.R.). The text of recent judgments on the Supreme Court of Canada Judgments Website are thus considered the most accurate version available until the release of the S.C.R. version.
  2. Judgments from 1994 to present
    These judgments are posted in multiple formats (html, Word, pdf) and include the text as published in the S.C.R. Over the years, there has been no indication of content errors. We consider them reliable.
  3. Judgments from 1989 to 1993
    The Word and HTML version of the Judgments from 1989 to 1993 may not include all revisions made before their publication in the S.C.R.'s. Editorial corrections may have been made at the time of publication in the S.C.R.  However the pdf version reflects the text as published in the S.C.R.
  4. Judgments prior to 1989
    These judgments were assembled from magnetic tapes kept by the printer of the S.C.R, as well as from digitized copies of the S.C.R.'s, which have subsequently been re-keyed and validated. As a result, it is possible that errors slipped into the Word or HTML files while they were being processed, although every effort was made to ensure their accuracy. Over the past 20 years, the SCC and Lexum have been working collaboratively, together with partners such as the Law Foundation of Ontario, the Law Foundation of British Columbia, the Alberta Law Foundation, the Centre d'accès à l'information juridique in Quebec, CanLII and others, to fill in gaps in the Supreme Court judgment database. Note also, that judgments rendered before 1970 are available in one of the official languages only.
  5. Canada Supreme Court Reports (S.C.R.) from 2013 onwards are available under the Resources heading of the Lexum SCC Judgments website and are released simultaneously with the print version of the S.C.R.

Disclaimer
When using these resources professionally, full discretion should be exercised. The html version of the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada on the Lexum SCC Judgment Internet site have been prepared for convenience of reference only. The official versions of decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada remain those published in the S.C.R.  Counsel may cite either the print or digital (pdf) version of the S.C.R. in documents filed with the Supreme Court of Canada and use the same method of citation for both versions of documents.

27. Can I find a bilingual copy of an SCC decision?

Since 1970 the Supreme Court's judgments have been published in both official languages in the Supreme Court Reports. Prior to 1977 not all decisions released by the Court were published in the Reports.

Since 1983 the Court's judgments have been released simultaneously in both official languages. At the time of release, the English and French versions are sold as one copy. Judgments from 1970 to the present are also available in both official languages.

28. Can I access Supreme Court of Canada court records on line?

Yes, you can access docket information, party information, case summaries, the memorandums of argument on an application for leave to appeal and the factums on-line from SCC Case Information. Please note that the memorandums of argument on leave will be posted electronically 30 days after leave to appeal has been granted and the factums on appeal will be posted electronically at least 2 weeks before the hearing unless they contain personal information, information that is subject to a publication ban, or any other information that is not part of the public record.

The Court's Records Centre strives to make its services as accessible as possible. Copies of documents can be obtained by filling out the Request for Court Records form or by contacting the Records Centre either by telephone at 613-996-7933 or 1-844-365-9662 or by email at records-dossiers@scc-csc.ca.

The fee for obtaining copies of documents is $1 per page. Copies of documents will be mailed or sent electronically within 48 hours of receipt of your payment.

29. Can I obtain photographs of judges of the Supreme Court of Canada or of the Supreme Court Building for the purposes of publication?

Anyone wishing to obtain a photograph and the right to use a photograph must fill out the on-line form entitled Request to Use Supreme Court of Canada Photographs, Videos or Webcasts.

30. I would like to make my opinion known on a pending case. How can I participate?

You cannot. Only parties to a case or people who have been granted official intervener status in a case are permitted to present documents or arguments to the Court.

31. Why can't I connect to the Supreme Court's library catalogue?

The catalogue server may occasionally go down unexpectedly. When this occurs we try to bring it back up as quickly as possible. The catalogue is not available on a daily basis between 4:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. (Eastern time) during the backup process. To allow you to connect to our catalogue from behind your firewall or proxy server, the security firewall or proxy server on your network must be configured to allow access to port 80, a standard internet port.

32. Is your library's catalogue Z39.50 compliant? How can I connect to it?

The Court's catalogue is Z39.50 compliant. Libraries wishing to configure Z39.50 clients to connect to our catalogue can obtain connection parameters and confirm search attributes by e-mailing a request at library-bibliotheque@scc-csc.ca. Note that port 2200 must be open to allow you to connect to our catalogue from behind your firewall or proxy server.

33. Where can I look for employment opportunities with the Supreme Court of Canada?

You can visit the page Employment Opportunities for the details.

34. How can a person be considered for a position as a law clerk/student articling position?

Every September an announcement is sent by the Supreme Court of Canada to each law faculty in Canada outlining the criteria required when applying for the positions. The deadline is in February.

Other information is also available on the Law Clerk Program page.

35. Where can I obtain information on a divorce granted in Canada?

Information on divorces can be located through the Central Divorce Registry maintained by the federal Department of Justice. Only parties to a divorce or their legal representatives may request divorce information. The Registry can be reached at:

Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings
Department of Justice Canada
284 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0H8
or by phone at 613-957-4519.

36. I was born in Canada. How can I get a copy of my birth certificate?

The registration of births is a provincial matter. You should contact provincial or territorial authorities in the province or territory of birth for a certificate. This service is often provided by the department of health, consumer affairs or vital statistics.

37. Is the Supreme Court of Canada Website designed to apply the Standard on Web Accessibility?

This Website has been designed with a view to making the information created by the Supreme Court of Canada accessible to all users, including persons with disabilities who use adaptive technologies to receive and disseminate information. Our site has been designed to meet the WCAG 2.0 conformance requirements and the Standard on Web Accessibility.

We encourage accessible Internet site development and maintenance and invite your comments and suggestions for improvement of the accessibility of this site. If you require help in accessing the content of this site for reasons related to accessibility, and for comments or suggestions, please contact us by email at reception@scc-csc.ca.

38. Where may I obtain information about the Supreme Court of Canada in a language other than English or French?

The Supreme Court of Canada is pleased to offer its pamphlet in PDF format in twelve languages in addition to English and French. These languages were selected on the basis of statistics provided by Statistics Canada and the versions in the other languages complement the ones available in Canada's two official languages. The pamphlet contains information about the history and role of the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as other general information.

39. Where may I obtain information about the Supreme Court of Canada in braille?

The Supreme Court of Canada is pleased to offer the English and French versions of its pamphlet in braille. The pamphlet contains information about the history and role of the Supreme Court of Canada, as well as other general information. If you would like to receive a copy of the pamphlet in braille, please contact us by email at tour-visite@scc-csc.ca, by phone at 613-995-5361 or by regular mail at the following address:

Supreme Court of Canada
Attn: Tour Programs
301 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0J1