Court Etiquette

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Court of Appeal will continue to hear appeals, and applications but as of March 23, 2020, these will be conducted as electronic hearings and not in person. Hearings will be conducted using the Cisco Webex Meeting application, where possible.

The following resources will assist in preparing for an electronic hearing using Cisco Webex:


Court hearings are generally open to the public, and you are welcome to attend to watch the proceedings.

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.

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.
  • Bring one copy of the documents that have been filed by both you and the other party along with a pen and paper to take notes.
  • When your matter is called, proceed to the front and sit at one of the tables. The other party of their lawyer will sit on the other side of 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Always stand when a judge enters or leaves the courtroom or when speaking to a judge. When you speak to the judge, stand at the podium in the middle of the room. 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”.

Gowning

  • Lawyers are required to gown when appearing before a panel of justices at in-person and electronic 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 plan 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.