Centre For Local Research into Public Space (CELOS)


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Custodians:
Court documents are public

The Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter C.43 sets out the court structure in Ontario. Part VII, which governs court proceedings, has a subsection entitled “Public Access”. This section sets out the general rule that all court documents are public, but clearly leaves the judge the discretion to deviate from this principle in instances where s/he thinks that there is the possibility of serious harm or injustice to any person. In this case, the information about the hearing may be disclosed except where the judge has expressly forbidden this.

Public Access

Public hearings

135.(1)Subject to subsection (2) and rules of court, all court hearings shall be open to the public.

Exception

(2)The court may order the public to be excluded from a hearing where the possibility of serious harm or injustice to any person justifies a departure from the general principle that court hearings should be open to the public.

Disclosure of information

(3)Where a proceeding is heard in the absence of the public, disclosure of information relating to the proceeding is not contempt of court unless the court expressly prohibited the disclosure of the information. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43, s. 135.

The law expressly states that the public has access to any document filed in a civil proceeding (where one person or organization sues another), including the court list of judgments, unless the court orders that a document is to be sealed and not part of the public record.

Documents public

137.(1)On payment of the prescribed fee, a person is entitled to see any document filed in a civil proceeding in a court, unless an Act or an order of the court provides otherwise.

Sealing documents

(2)A court may order that any document filed in a civil proceeding before it be treated as confidential, sealed and not form part of the public record.

Court lists public

(3)On payment of the prescribed fee, a person is entitled to see any list maintained by a court of civil proceedings commenced or judgments entered.

Copies

(4)On payment of the prescribed fee, a person is entitled to a copy of any document the person is entitled to see. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43, s. 137


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Content last modified on November 15, 2008, at 04:22 PM EST