Court Etiquette

The Court of Appeal will be resuming in-person hearings on May 2, 2022, 2022. The Notice to the Profession and Public issued March 16, 2022 confirms which matters will be proceeding in person and which matters will continue to proceed virtually.

Those matters that will continue to proceed virtually will use the Cisco Webex Meeting application. The following resources will assist in preparing for in-person and virtual hearings:

The Procedure Guide for In-Person and Virtual Hearings and Other Matters contains additional information, including COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place including those for in-person hearings. Anyone attending a proceeding in person must be in full compliance with these protocols.

Court hearings are generally open to the public, and you are welcome to attend to watch the proceedings. However, the November 27, 2020 Notice to the Public and Legal Profession – Restricted Access to Courthouses continues to apply. In-person hearings will be open to counsel, self-represented parties, those members of the public listed in section 1 and section 4 of the above-mentioned Notice and members of the accredited media who represent the public interest.

The courtroom is a formal setting, and your conduct should be polite and respectful to the judges, the parties, their lawyers, and court staff. You must not disrupt or interfere with an appeal hearing.

When there is more than one hearing scheduled for the same day and in the same courtroom, only participants connected to the in-session hearing will be allowed in the courtroom. The clerk will inform all others that they must wait outside of the courtroom until it is their turn.

In particular:

  • Arrive at least half an hour before your matter is scheduled to begin. You will need to allow extra time to go through security and to find your courtroom. Check that your name is on the electronic display outside of the courtroom. Enter the courtroom and then check in with the court clerk before court begins.
  • Wear appropriate business-like clothing, including footwear. All hats must be removed.
  • Other than water, food and beverages are not allowed in the courtroom. Refrain from chewing gum.
  • As the court record is now officially electronic, courtrooms are configured to accommodate the use of laptops or other electronic devices in order to access appeal documents during oral argument. Instructions on how to connect to the Court’s WiFi will be located in the courtroom; however, you are strongly encouraged to download all documents (both those filed by you and those filed by all other parties) in advance to your electronic device so that a reliance on the WiFi connection will not be necessary.
  • Bring a pen and paper to take notes. You may also quietly take notes on your laptop or electronic device.
  • Identify yourself (and who you represent, if applicable) to the clerk when you arrive in the courtroom and to the court prior to making your representations. When your matter is called, proceed to the front and sit at one of the tables. The other party or their lawyer will sit on the other side of the courtroom. 
  • When speaking, ensure you speak clearly and slowly enough for everyone to follow what you are saying.
  • Pay attention to the time limits for oral argument. Time limit lights are available on the podium in the courtroom.
  • If the Court is already in session, it is customary, as a matter of respect, to bow when entering and leaving the courtroom.
  • Always stand when a judge enters or leaves the courtroom or when speaking to a judge. If you do not understand what a judge has said or ordered, ask them to explain.
  • When speaking to a judge, the preferred form of address is "Justice" or "Justice" followed by the last name. If the Chief Justice is sitting, the Chief Justice should be addressed as “Chief Justice”.
  • Members of the public are prohibited from using cameras, tape recorders, video equipment and other electronic devices in Court facilities. Photographs and video recordings are not permitted. Cell phones should be turned off or kept on silent and kept out of sight when court is in session.
  • Lawyers and accredited media members are permitted to use electronic devices in the courtroom in accordance with the Court’s Policy on the Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms.
  • Lawyers are required to gown when appearing before a panel of justices at in-person and virtual appeal hearings, panel applications and bar admissions.
  • Lawyers are not required to gown when appearing before a single appeal judge or at the Sentence Speak to List, Unscheduled Civil Appeals List or Criminal Speak to List.
  • Where gowning is required, counsel with personal circumstances, such as pregnancy, a medical condition, or a disability, are free to modify their traditional court attire to accommodate their personal circumstances as they see fit, including dispensing with a waistcoat and tabs. Modified attire must be dark in colour and in keeping with Court decorum.
  • Counsel who plans to wear modified attire are requested to advise the Registrar or the Deputy Registrar in advance of the court appearance to ensure they do not need to discuss their personal circumstances or modified attire on record or in open court. Alternatively, they may inform the clerk who is on duty before the commencement of the proceedings.