Guidelines on Public and Media

The Open Court Principle

The general rule in Canada is that court hearings are open to the public and media. Every court in Canada, including the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada, has significant statutory or inherent powers to ensure that its proceedings are conducted fairly and in a manner which protects the integrity of the court’s processes. These powers include the power to provide guidelines for public and media access to court proceedings and, to impose, where necessary, restrictions on public or media access to those proceedings.

In the absence of court ordered limitations, members of the public and media are expected to go about their business, bearing in mind the safety and dignity of all involved in the proceedings.

Access to Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada Hearings

The Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada is an itinerant court which sits in various locations, in Canada and abroad, to best accommodate the needs of the parties. Court hearings are open to the public unless, for special reasons, the Court directs that the hearing, or any portion of it, be held in camera. The schedule of Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada hearings is available at the following link: Hearing List

Seating space in the courtroom is limited. Where interest in a proceeding is such that there is not enough seating space for all those who wish to attend, Court staff may be required to limit the number of persons who enter the courtroom. The public is not allowed to remain standing during a proceeding. In the event space is not available to accommodate all of those interested in attending a hearing, a video link to another courtroom may be established.

Use of Electronic Devices in the Courtroom

The use of electronic devices in the courtroom is permitted, provided the devices are on “silent” or "vibration” mode so as not to affect the decorum, the good order and the conduct of the proceedings.

Accredited members of the media may record proceedings only for purposes of verifying their notes regarding what was said and done in Court. Accredited members of the media may transmit text information from the courtroom to the outside. No one other than accredited members of the media and court staff may record proceedings inside the courtroom.

It is not permitted to make or receive phone calls in the courtroom, or, to broadcast or send photos, audio or video recording from the courtroom to the outside. This applies even in the event a hearing is held via teleconference, videoconference or other virtual hearing format.

Media accreditation should be prominently displayed.

Media Coverage of Court Proceedings by Use of Audio-Visual Equipment

Media coverage of proceedings with audio-visual equipment is only permitted in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • a. A media request to record or broadcast a proceeding must be made sufficiently in advance to allow for necessary arrangements to be made.
  • A decision whether to allow media coverage will be made by the Chief Justice, after consultation with the panel of judges hearing the case, and the parties.
  • The Chief Justice or panel of judges hearing the proceeding may limit or terminate media coverage to protect the rights of the parties, witnesses or victims; to assure the orderly conduct of the proceedings; or for any other reason considered necessary or appropriate in the interest of the administration of justice.
  • Nothing in these guidelines shall prevent the Chief Justice from placing additional restrictions, or prohibiting altogether, media access to the Court's facilities.
  • Only equipment which does not produce distracting sound or light may be employed to cover proceedings.
  • The Chief Justice or his designate may limit or circumscribe the placement or movement of media personnel and their equipment.

Media Contact

For more information or to make a request for media coverage of court proceedings, please contact:

Adrian Bieniasiewicz
Senior Counsel
Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada

This contact information is for media enquiries only.

For information with respect to Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada practice, procedure and forms, please contact the Registry Office

Date modified: 2020-06-04