Estate of Bernard Sherman and the Trustees of the Estate, et al. v. Kevin Donovan, et al.

(Ontario) (Civil) (By Leave)


Courts - Interlocutory orders, Stay, Privacy - Judgments and orders - Interlocutory orders - Stay - Privacy - Appellants seeking to have court files pertaining to the administration of the estates of the deceased sealed - Is the sealing order necessary to protect against a serious risk to the important issues engaged in this case, namely the privacy and physical safety of the Affected Individuals? - Is the constitutionally protected right to privacy an important interest recognized at the first stage of the Sierra Club test? - Is there a serious risk to the privacy of the Affected Individuals? - Is physical safety an important interest recognized at the first stage of the Sierra Club test? - Did the Court of Appeal err in concluding that there was insufficient evidence of a serious risk to the physical safety of the Affected Individuals? - Is a sealing order necessary because reasonably alternative measures will not prevent the serious risks to privacy and physical safety? - Do the salutary effects of the sealing order outweigh the deleterious effects, in the context of this non-litigious probate matter? .


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(Sealing order)

On December 15, 2017, Mr. Barry Sherman and Mrs. Honey Sherman were found murdered in their Toronto home. Their celebrity, wealth and the circumstances of their deaths generated intense publicity. The identity of the murderer or murderers remains unknown. Applications for the issuance of a Certificate of Appointment of Estate Trustee were made to the court. The appellants sought an oral hearing in order to request an order sealing the court file before filing their application. A Protective Order was issued and the estate files were retained in the judge’s Chambers pending further order. In July 2018, Mr. Donovan, a reporter with the Toronto Star, sought access to both estate files. He was advised that by judge’s order, the files were not available to be viewed. In response, Mr. Donovan and the Toronto Star brought two applications seeking a variation or termination of the Protective Order and the full unsealing of the court files.