Preparing for the Hearing

We recommend that over the weeks leading up to the hearing, you familiarize yourself with the relevant policies and procedures, such as those on obtaining reserved seating, on filing condensed books and on courtroom decorum.

Obtaining Reserved Seating

Counsel for a party whose case is to be heard by the Court may obtain two reserved seating passes for his or her client on the morning of the hearing upon checking in at the Registry.

If counsel for a party wishes to obtain more than two reserved seating passes, he or she must write to the Registrar to request the additional passes no later than two weeks before the hearing date. See the Reserved Seating Policy and Procedure for more information.

Filing Condensed Books

Fourteen copies of the condensed book must be filed with the Court Clerk the morning of the hearing in addition to the copies you must provide to the other parties.  You do not need to serve the other parties in advance. The condensed book will be distributed in the Courtroom; counsel are responsible for distributing copies to the parties, while the Court Clerk will give copies to the judges, law clerks and interpreters. 

Pursuant to Rule 45, a condensed book must be bound and should contain the excerpts from the record and the book of authorities to which the party providing it will refer in oral argument. The condensed book may contain an outline of the oral argument, but that outline must be no longer than two pages, must relate to the contents of the condensed book and must not constitute a supplementary factum.

Courtroom Decorum

Counsel representing the appellant and the respondent are expected to remain in the Courtroom for the duration of the hearing. All persons in attendance must stand when the judges enter or exit the Courtroom. Please note that all participants in the hearing must wear gowns.  

Judges are to be addressed as "Justice", "Mr. Justice", "Madam Justice" or "Mr. Chief Justice".

Appearances and Counsel Sheets

  • Each side gets one hour for oral argument.
  • If there is more than one appellant or respondent, all the appellants or respondents must share the hour allotted to the appellant or respondent for oral argument (Rule 71(5)).
  • In an appeal as of right, the time allotted for oral argument may be reduced to 30 minutes. Counsel will be advised by e-mail approximately one month in advance of the hearing if the time is reduced. (Rule 71 (5.1)).
  • No more than two counsel for each appellant or respondent and one counsel for each intervener are permitted to present oral argument. If there are two counsel, the time allotted to that party must be shared (Rules 71(1)(a) and 71(5)).
  • You must advise the Registrar in writing, at least two weeks before the appeal is scheduled to be heard of the name of counsel who will be appearing at the hearing (Rule 71(4)).
  • A "counsel sheet" is prepared for each hearing. The counsel sheet is made available the morning of the hearing at the Registry counter in most cases. The sheet may be sent to the parties in advances in cases involving many parties.
  • Once the times for oral argument have been settled, the Court will expect counsel to keep within their allotted time.
  • The lectern is equipped with a digital clock. Five minutes before your allotted time is over, the clock will turn green. Two minutes and a half before your allotted time is over, the clock will turn yellow. Once your time is over, the clock will turn red.
  • Any articling student who wishes to sit at the counsel table must be given permission to do so by the Court at the hearing of the appeal.
  • Counsel will be asked to verify for publication their names and information about their law firm/organization and the order in which counsel names should appear in the judgment. It is counsel's responsibility to advise the Court of any changes to this information prior to the release of the judgment.

Appearing by videoconference

In certain circumstances, the Court may direct counsel to appear by way of videoconference. The videoconferences are conducted on the Zoom platform. The following are the technical requirements to appear remotely before the Court.

  • A Zoom account. (You can download Zoom at https://zoom.us/.)
  • A hard-wired, high speed Internet connection (broadband wired (3G or 4G/LTE)).
  • A desktop or notebook computer.
  • Headset with mic provided by the SCC to counsel who will be speaking. The headset must be connected directly to the device; and
  • A webcam (built-in or USB plug-in) or a HD cam or HD camcorder with video capture card.

When appearing remotely before the Court, counsel are expected to follow the same dress code and decorum as they would if they were appearing in-person.

Prior to the hearing, counsel will be contacted by the Registry Branch with further details, including an invitation to attend a mandatory pre-hearing testing session. Please note that all technical requirements listed above are also necessary for the testing session.

For inquiries on virtual hearings, please contact the Registry Branch at 1-844-365-9662 or by email at registry-greffe@scc-csc.ca.

Internet Access and Technology in the Courtroom

Counsel may bring their own tablets/laptops, which may be connected to the Courtroom's free wireless Internet service.

Pre-hearing Tours of the Courtroom

Counsel are welcome to visit the Court in advance of the hearing day. Please contact the Registry by email at registry-greffe@scc-csc.ca or by phone at 1-844-365-9662 to arrange a tour. 

Other Useful Information

  • The Court provides hearing assisted devices upon request, please contact the Registry Office at least 48 hours prior to the day of a hearing if this is required.
  • You can view pictures of the Supreme Court of Canada building.
  • You may read about the Supreme Court of Canada building.
  • You may also read about the judges of the Court.