Procedure for Lock-ups

Date: February 14, 2006

1. Request for a Lock-up

1.1 The President of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery ("CPPG") may write to the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada ("SCC" or the "Court") to request a media lock-up for any appeal (the "Appeal") no later than one month after the Court hears the Appeal. Only the President of the CPPG may request a media lock-up.

1.2 Where the Court deems the case appropriate for consideration for a media lock-up, the Registrar will request written consent to the media lock-up from counsel of record for the parties. Counsel for interveners, if any, on the Appeal will not be consulted.

1.3 If any counsel of record for a party refuses to consent to a media lock-up on the Appeal, no media lock-up will be held. If counsel of record for a party consents to the media lock-up, he or she may request a separate lock-up for counsel.

1.4 Given other demands on the limited resources of the Court, only a limited number of cases can be subject to lock-ups. The Court may refuse to hold a lock-up for any reason, notwithstanding the consent of counsel of record for the parties.

1.5 The Registrar will advise the President of the CPPG and counsel of record for the parties and interveners, if any, of the Court's decision whether to hold a lock-up on the Appeal.

2. Who May Attend Lock-up

2.1 Only media representatives and counsel of record for the parties and interveners, or their agents, will be allowed to attend the lock-up in accordance with the following two paragraphs. No parties, interveners, experts or analysts will be permitted to attend any lock-up.

2.2 Only media representatives accredited by the CPPG will be admitted to the media lock-up. CPPG accreditation must be secured by each media representative before the lock-up.

2.3 Only counsel of record for each party and for each intervener on the Appeal and/or their respective agents, will be admitted to the counsel lock-up. Counsel and agents will be required to confirm their attendance with the Registry when the Registry informs them of the lock-up/judgment release date.

3. Notice of Lock-up/Judgment Release Date

3.1 Approximately one week before the date of the lock-up, counsel of record for the parties and interveners, and their agents, will be informed of the date of the lock-up/release of judgment on the Appeal. The Court will send out a notice of the date and time of the lock-up/release of judgment on the Appeal to the CPPG after counsel have been advised.

4. Pre-briefing for Media

On any appeal where there is a lock-up, a pre-briefing for the media will be given where possible, normally a day or two before the date of the lock-up/judgment release date. The pre-briefing will cover the background issues (facts, lower court decisions, arguments by the parties, etc.). The matters covered at the pre-briefing will not be covered again at the media lock-up.

5. Procedure on Day of Lock-up

5.1 The media lock-up and the counsel lock-up will be held on the day the judgment in the Appeal is released. Only one judgment will be released at any lock-up.

5.2 Normally, the media lock-up will be held in the SCC Press Room.

5.3 The counsel lock-up will be held in a room to be designated at the SCC.

5.4 All members of the media and all counsel of record for the parties and interveners, or their agents, who attend the lock-up shall give a signed undertaking (the "Undertaking") that he or she will not engage in any external communications for the duration of the lock-up. No one will be permitted to attend the lock-up unless the Undertaking is given. As a term of the Undertaking, all electronic communication devices shall be surrendered to a Court staff member for the duration of the lock-up. A copy of the Undertaking is attached.

5.5 The President of the CPPG or his or her designate will be present prior to and during the media lock-up to verify CPPG accreditation and to collect the Undertakings and remit them to a Court staff member who will be present to collect Undertakings and electronic communication devices. A Court security officer will also be present.

5.6 A Court staff member will be present outside the counsel lock-up to verify counsel's identity and to collect the Undertakings. A Court security officer will also be present.

5.7 Both the media lock-up and counsel lock-up will start at the same time, normally 8:15 a.m. The reasons for judgment will be distributed at the commencement of the lock-up. No one will be allowed to leave the lock-up prior to 9:45 a.m., or the time the judgment is released to the public, whichever is later.

5.8 Briefing at media lock-up:

  1. Reporters will be given 15 minutes alone to read the judgment at the beginning of the lock-up.
  2. There will then be a one half-hour briefing by the Executive Legal Officer, or his or her designate, on the reasons for judgment. The briefing is not-for-attribution.
  3. The Executive Legal Officer, or his or her designate, will then answer questions.

5.9 No briefing will be given to counsel at the counsel lock-up.

5.10 The media lock-up and counsel lock-up will end at 9:45 a.m., or the time the judgment is officially released to the public, whichever is later.

Rights of SCC

The purpose of a media lock-up is to improve the accuracy of reporting of decisions of the Court and to assist members of the media in high profile cases where there is a high level of public interest. The Court appreciates input from the CPPG to improve the procedure applicable to lock-ups. However, the Court reserves the right to refuse a lock-up, the right to change the procedure applicable to lock-ups, and the right to discontinue lock-ups.

Inquiries

For information on lock-ups, please contact:

Counsel Inquiries

Registry
613-996-8666

Media Inquiries

Gib van Ert, Executive Legal Officer
613-996-9296

Rémi Samson, Legal Officer
613-996-6289