Judgment Lock-up Procedure
Date: May 2017
1. Purpose of lock-ups
1.1 The Supreme Court of Canada may, at its discretion, hold lock-ups for media and counsel immediately prior to the release of its judgments. The purpose of lock-ups is to facilitate accurate and informed reporting of the Court’s judgments.
2. Initiation of lock-ups
2.1 A media lock-up may be initiated by the Court or granted at the request of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery (CPPG). A request by the CPPG must be made in writing to the Registrar.
2.2 Before the Court initiates a media lock-up or grants a CPPG request for one, the Registrar will invite all counsel of record to give their comments, if any.
2.3 Whenever a media lock-up is held, a separate and simultaneous lock-up for counsel will be held.
3. Who may attend
3.1 Only media representatives accredited by the CPPG, including those holding temporary credentials, may attend a media lock-up.
3.2 Only counsel of record for the appellant(s), respondent(s) and any intervener(s) in the appeal, and/or their agents, may attend a counsel lock-up.
4. Notice of lock-ups
4.1 Notice of media and counsel lock-ups will be given approximately one week before judgment in an appeal is released.
4.2 Counsel wishing to attend a counsel lock-up must confirm their attendance with the Registry at least two days before the scheduled date.
5. Pre-briefing for the media
At its discretion, the Court may hold a pre-briefing for the media, normally a day or two before the media lock-up. The pre-briefing will cover the facts, lower court decisions, and arguments of the parties. The CPPG will be advised of the date and time of the pre-briefing in the notice of media lock-up.
6. Procedure on the day of the lock-up
6.1 The media and counsel lock-ups will start at the same time, normally 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
6.2 The media lock-up will be conducted in the Court’s Press Room. The counsel lock-up will be conducted in another room to be designated at the Court.
6.3 Before entering the lock-up, attendees must surrender all phones and other electronic communication devices to a Court staff member for the duration of the lock-up.
6.5 Court staff members will be present at media and counsel lock-ups to collect signed undertakings, verify counsel’s identities, and take custody of communication devices. The President of the CPPG or his or her designate will be present at media lock-ups to verify the CPPG accreditations of media attendees.
6.6 Reasons for judgment will be distributed to attendees at the beginning of the lock-up.
6.7 At the media lock-up, the Executive Legal Officer, or his or her designate, will conduct a briefing on the judgment. This briefing is off the record, for information only, and not for attribution. No briefing will be provided at the counsel lock-up.
6.8 No one may leave the lock-up until the judgment is released to the public, usually at 9:45 a.m. Eastern time.
6.9 The Court will only release one judgment on a lock-up day, except in the case of companion appeals.
7. Remote release of judgments to counsel
7.1 In cases where a media lock-up will take place, and in lieu of attending a counsel lock-up, counsel may ask to receive the judgment remotely (that is, at a location other than the Court).
7.2 As a condition of receiving the judgment remotely, counsel must give a written undertaking prepared by the Court. Counsel must file this undertaking with the Registry at least two business days before the lock-up.
7.3 Remote delivery of a judgment to counsel will occur at the beginning of the media lock-up.
7.4 Remote delivery of a judgment to counsel will occur electronically, with protective and other measures that the Court deems appropriate.
7.5 Remote release of judgments to counsel is at the Court’s discretion. The Court reserves the right to release judgments remotely to counsel for the appellant(s) and respondent(s) but not to counsel for any intervener(s).
8. Rights of the Court
The Court reserves the right to change its judgment lock-up procedure, to discontinue lock-ups and to refuse any given request for a lock-up.
For more information on lock-ups, please contact:
Supreme Court of Canada Registry
Gib van Ert, Executive Legal Officer
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