Judgment Lock-up Procedure
Date: July 2023
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 shortly following the hearing of an appeal, if not before.
2.2 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 in advance of the News Release announcing when a judgment in an appeal will be released.
4.2 Counsel wishing to attend a lock-up must confirm their attendance with the Registry at least three days before the scheduled date, by completing and sending the undertaking that accompanies the Notice of Lock-Up.
4.3 Media representatives accredited by the CPPG wishing to attend a lock-up must confirm their attendance with the SCC Media contact at least three days before the scheduled date, by completing and sending the undertaking that accompanies the Notice of Lock-Up.
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 in-person lock-up
6.1 The media and counsel lock-ups will start at the same time, normally 8:15 a.m. Eastern time. Participants must attend the Supreme Court of Canada building no later than 7:45 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 have submitted their signed undertaking. No one may attend a lock-up without having done so.
6.4 Court staff members will be present at media and counsel lock-ups to verify participants’ identities.
6.5 Reasons for judgment will be distributed to attendees at the beginning of the lock-up. Those attending in person will receive both paper and electronic copies (via a file-sharing platform) of the Reasons for Judgment.
6.6 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.
6.7 No one may leave the lock-up until the judgment is released to the public, usually at 9:45 a.m. Eastern time.
6.8 The Court will only release one judgment on a lock-up day, except in the case of companion appeals.
7 Remote release of judgments
7.1 Remote release of judgments is at the Court’s discretion.
7.2 In cases where a lock-up will take place, participants may ask to receive the judgment remotely (that is, at a location other than the Court, via a file-sharing platform), in lieu of attending the lock-up in person.
7.3 As a condition of receiving the judgment remotely, counsel and accredited representatives of the media must give a written undertaking prepared by the Court.
7.4 Counsel wishing to attend a counsel lock-up must confirm their attendance with the Registry at least three days before the scheduled date, by completing and sending the undertaking that accompanies the Notice of Lock-Up.
7.5 Media representatives accredited by the CPPG wishing to attend a lock-up must confirm their attendance with the SCC Media contact at least three days before the scheduled date, by completing and sending the undertaking that accompanies the Notice of Lock-Up.
7.6 Remote delivery of a judgment to all participants will occur electronically via the file-sharing platform at 8:15 a.m. Eastern Time, with protective and other measures that the Court deems appropriate. The embargo period will end only once the SCC has released the judgment to the public, typically at 9:45 a.m. Eastern Time.
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
Executive Legal Officer
Renée Maria Tremblay
Deputy Executive Legal Officer
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