New Ontario Rule on Recording Proceedings is Important Opportunity for SRLs

Posted by: NSRLP Category: About, NSRLP News Comments: 9 Post Date: July 11, 2018

Elizabeth Roberts is an SRL who works on raising awareness of the obstacles faced by SRLs.

Recently, I stood before a Justice in Ontario Superior Court as a self-represented litigant and obtained permission to record a proceeding on my personal recording device, aka… my cell phone.

Had I not learned through the SRL information grapevine that requesting permission to record was an option, I likely would never have discovered this new rule in the legal labyrinth, nor figured out a way to apply for permission to record. These things are just not spelled out for the average person.

Information sharing is vital to an SRL’s access to the justice system. Of course, it is also important for each of us to fact-check the information shared and how it applies to our matter. Since my proceeding, while in a discussion about the trials and tribulations of obtaining court transcripts, I stumbled across the following updated Practice Direction, which no longer requires permission of the presiding judge to record in court, providing the rule is followed.

To my delight, as of June 15th, 2018:

Para 98.  “Unless the presiding judge orders otherwise, the use of electronic devices in silent mode and in discreet unobtrusive manner is permitted in the courtroom by… self-represented parties” (The same Practice Direction permits counsel and journalists to also make recordings).

There are some restrictions. These include caveats that the electronic device “cannot interfere with courtroom decorum”, “…cannot interfere with the court recording equipment or other technology in the courtroom”, “…cannot be used to send publicly accessible live communications”, and “…cannot be used to take photographs or videos unless the judge has granted permission to do so.”

What does this mean for SRLs? Fairness, reassurance, and confidence.

What does this mean for the justice system?  Clarity, accountability, transparency, accuracy, and (especially in light of the cost of obtaining transcripts, highlighted in NSRLP’s recent Transcripts Report) cost-reduction.

Permitting the recording of proceedings makes sense and is a win-win for everyone.

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Comments (9)

  • Maxine Collins

    Recording of proceedings in the Ontario courts is not a new rule – it is a provision of the Courts of Justice Act and has been in effect since 1996. My reading of it is you don’t need to ask permission to record but do need to ask permission to record if it is unobtrusive.

    July 11, 2018 at 3:08 pm
  • Arif

    There should be a live recording system for civil or criminal cases at the court rooms and should be published live on tv channels ,every one can see and hear what is going on with the justice system and we must show every one the judge’s credibility and accountability faces of the court system as well as harassment and humiliation of judges.

    July 11, 2018 at 3:16 pm
  • sandra olson

    harassment and humiliation of judges!!!!????? Since they run the courts, it would be impossible for them to be victimized by their own hand,, you really are out there. I truly ,, am pleased about this,,, it is about time, when we, the self represented say,, what is being said and done in court, we do not have to be called liars, and try to prove some of the shockingly rude statements being made by the court toward the self represented. Remember I said, in open court, before a judge, a woman at that, one lawyer actually said, that I probably didn’t even know who, my childs father was. my breath was taken by this sort of childish, personal attack. it was very unprofessional. she has never apologized, and the judge NEVER spoke up and said it was inappropriate in a court of law. So,, I will say it.

    July 11, 2018 at 7:50 pm
  • SRL

    Not sure why you saying as of June 15th, 2018. I being a while there and dated March 1, 2013. My experience (SLR 3 trials) that you do not ask but inform you are going to do it and reference to this practice direction and Courts of Justice Act. And be ready to do motion if denied…

    Without being able to record my trial and use recording overnight to prepare for the next day I would be doomed…

    July 12, 2018 at 11:11 am
  • Kristen L. Hales

    If you intend to rely on the Practice Direction, I recommend that you read it carefully. There are some types of court proceedings that cannot be recorded, and you must advise the judicial official that you are recording the proceeding BEFORE you record it. Litigants including self-represented parties do not have to request permission first, simply advise the court that you are recording. Members of the public (NOT litigants in the matter before the court) must seek permission BEFORE recording proceedings.

    July 12, 2018 at 11:32 am
  • Eduard Hiebert

    Having represented myself and towards leveling the playing field between those with money and those having to make do with elbow grease, this is wonderful news, thank you!

    It also begs the question, why there isn’t a good dictionary available that cross references all the various rules a dozen different way so that one need not know more than Plain English in order to find the various rules all too often etched in legalese.

    In fact with every Canadian having the right to be tried in either of Canada’s official languages, why is legalese even tolerated within the court system and would encourage the NSRLP to give this some attention If not already in the works

    July 13, 2018 at 12:50 am
  • Self-Represented Litigant's Society

    This is not the case Maxine. The method of recording needed/needs to be approved by the presiding judge. s. 136 (2) of the Courts of Justice Act permits audio recording only, “in the manner that has been approved by the judge, for the sole purpose of supplementing or replacing handwritten notes.”

    July 16, 2018 at 11:43 am
    • NSRLP

      Actually the rule has been updated in the Practice Direction hyperlinked in the article. You no longer have to ask permission, as long as you follow the rule. The judge retains overall discretion to tell you to stop recording, but you don’t have to ask permission in the first place.

      July 16, 2018 at 3:02 pm
  • Elizabeth

    The article and link to the Practice Direction is for informational purposes only. Advice on interpreting the rules, statutes, directions etc., has to be sought from a lawyer because only a lawyer or paralegal can provide legal advice. That being said, the information in the Ontario Court of Justice Practice Direction is an update as of June 15th, 2018. Prior to the update it was my understanding that one required permission of the court (in Ontario) in order to audio record proceedings (among a list of rules). As of the update, my understanding is that self-reps no longer require the permission of the court (in Ontario), providing they follow the rules set out in the practice direction. Of course, everyone must read the rules and information very careful, for themselves. As a self-rep, I find it helpful to try to understand what something is, i.e. What is a Practice Direction? in the first place. Perhaps this will help clarify some of the concerns and comments on this thread. See: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/practice/practice-directions/

    The information I had come across was found under this link at para. 98(d)
    http://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/practice/practice-directions/provincial/#D_Electronic_Devices_in_the_Courtroom

    Hope that helps.

    July 17, 2018 at 5:56 pm

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