Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - Online Access
Beginning September 12, 2022, certain records from Federal Court files will be available for download from the Federal Court’s website as part of the Court’s pilot project for online access to Court records. Information about the pilot project can be found in the Notice to Parties and the Profession, Pilot Project: Online Access to Court Records that governs the pilot project.
In addition, answers to some questions you may have about the Federal Court’s online access to Court records pilot project are set out below:
- What records can I get online from the Federal Court’s website?
- What Court files will have records online?
- How do I obtain a Court record online?
- Why aren’t all Court records available online?
- Will historical Court records be available online?
- Will confidential documents be available online?
- How do I get a Court record that is not available online?
- How does this affect e-filing through the Federal Court’s Electronic Filing System?
- Can I request that a document not be posted online?
- Do other parties have a say in whether an exemption from online posting is granted?
- Will my document be posted online while my exemption request is being decided?
- If a document is exempted from online posting, does that make it confidential?
- When will filed documents become available online?
- What is the purpose of the three business day delay in publishing documents online?
- I’m having difficulty downloading a document, who can I call?
What records can I get online from the Federal Court’s website?
Records available online during the initial phase of the pilot project fall into three categories:
- Pleadings filed electronically by a party, such as statements of claim, statements of defence, notices of application, or notices of motion;
- Written arguments filed electronically by a party, such as written representations or memoranda of fact and law;
- Documents produced by the Court, such as orders, judgments, directions, or reasons.
These documents will be available in cases that are commenced on or after September 12, 2022 in one of four areas of the Court’s jurisdiction.
What Court files will have records online?
The initial phase of the pilot project will make certain documents available in proceedings related to Intellectual Property, Indigenous Law, Maritime and Admiralty, and Class Actions.
How do I obtain a Court record online?
Eligible Court records can be obtained for download from the Recorded Entry page from the proceeding, accessed from the Court Files page on the Federal Court website.
Documents that are available for download are indicated with a download icon in the “Download” column of the Recorded Entry page
Complete instructions on using the Court Files page to locate a proceeding, accessing the Recorded Entry page, and downloading records, can be found in the User Guide for Online Access to Federal Court Records.
Why aren’t all Court records available online?
As a general matter, the Court files of the Federal Court are accessible to the public, as part of the important open court principle. However, even where records are available from the Federal Court Registry, posting them online raises potential concerns about privacy, practical obscurity, and personal security. These concerns are heightened in some areas of the Court’s jurisdiction, such as Immigration and Refugee Law. To take a measured and balanced approach to these issues, the Federal Court is introducing online access through a pilot project with a phased approach, initially making certain documents available online. Once the Court has had the opportunity to assess the results of the pilot project, it is anticipated that later phases will make additional documents available and documents in additional practice areas.
Will historical Court records be available online?
No. Only documents in proceedings commenced after the launch of the pilot project will be available online.
Will confidential documents be available online?
No. Documents that are subject to a confidentiality order issued by the Court are not available to the public from the Federal Court Registry, and will not be available online. To obtain a confidentiality order, parties must seek one from the Court and satisfy the legal requirements for such an order.
How do I get a Court record that is not available online?
The new online access platform supplements but does not replace existing methods of obtaining Court records. If a record is publicly available but is not available for online access, it may be obtained by contacting the Federal Court Registry.
How does this affect e-filing through the Federal Court’s Electronic Filing System?
Implementing the online access platform requires parties that e-file documents through the Federal Court’s Electronic Filing System to provide some additional information. In particular, parties filing originating documents will be asked whether the document pertains to a proposed class action. Parties filing documents that may qualify for online access will be required to provide additional information regarding the online access status of the document.
Full details are provided in the User Guide for Online Access to Federal Court Records.
Can I request that a document not be posted online?
Yes. The Court recognizes that even if a document is not subject to a confidentiality or sealing order or does not meet the requirements for such an order, and is therefore available to the public from the Federal Court Registry, there may be exceptional circumstances where it is nonetheless appropriate that the document not be made available online.
Therefore, when filing a document, a party may request that the document be exempted from online access. If making such a request, the party will be asked to file a document in support of the request, setting out the reasons the request is being made. Requests will not be granted automatically. The Court member reviewing the request will have full discretion to determine whether an exemption from online access will be granted. However, the Court anticipates that parties will be required to show that there is a serious risk that making the document available through the Court’s online platform, in addition to being available from the Registry, will result in a material adverse impact on the personal dignity or security of an individual.
Do other parties have a say in whether an exemption from online posting is granted?
Yes. Other parties will have five days from the filing of an exemption request to make any submissions regarding whether the document should be exempt from online access.
Will my document be posted online while my exemption request is being decided?
No. While an exemption request is pending, a document will not be available for online access by the public. It may nonetheless be available in the ordinary course by request to the Federal Court Registry.
If a document is exempted from online posting, does that make it confidential?
No. Only a confidentiality order renders a document confidential and not available to the public. An exemption from online access simply means that the document will not be available for download from the Federal Court’s website. The document will still be available in the ordinary course from the Federal Court Registry.
If a party believes that a document is confidential and should not be available to the public notwithstanding the importance of the open court principle, they may file a motion seeking a confidentiality order pursuant to Rule 151 of the Federal Courts Rules. This process is unaffected by the online access pilot project.
When will filed documents become available online?
Documents that are eligible for online access will become available three business days after they are filed electronically.
What is the purpose of the three business day delay in publishing documents online?
After consultations with the bar, the Court has implemented a three business day delay before documents are published online for two reasons. The first is to permit appropriate document processing by the Registry. The second is to permit the person or party filing a document to correct any errors in the filing, such as the accidental filing of information subject to a confidentiality order or the filing of documents intended to be subject to an exemption request without the request being made or filed.