Decision Lock-up Procedure



In consultation with the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery (CPPG), the Federal Court has approved the following procedure for lock-ups related to the release of Court decisions. Given that the CPPG already follows a lock-up procedure for Supreme Court of Canada judgments, this same procedure is adopted with modification as necessary.

1 Purpose of lock-ups

1.1 The Federal Court may, at its discretion, hold lock-ups for media and counsel immediately prior to the release of its decisions. The purpose of lock-ups is to facilitate accurate and informed reporting of the Court’s decisions.

2 Initiation of lock-ups

2.1 A media lock-up may be initiated by the Court or granted at the request of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery (CPPG). A request by the CPPG must be made in writing to the Court’s Media Contact.

2.2 Before the Court initiates a media lock-up or grants a CPPG request for one, the Media Contact will invite all counsel of record to give their comments.

2.3 Whenever a media lock-up is held, a separate and simultaneous lock-up for counsel will be held.

2.4 If one or both parties are unrepresented, no lock-up will be held.

3 Who may attend

3.1 Only media representatives accredited by the CPPG, including those holding temporary credentials, may attend a media lock-up.

3.2 Only counsel of record for the parties and/or their agents, may attend a counsel lock-up.

4 Notice of lock-ups

4.1 Notice of media and counsel lock-ups will be given approximately two weeks before the decision is released.

4.2 Counsel wishing to participate in a counsel lock-up must confirm with the Media Contact at least two days before the scheduled date and sign a written undertaking prepared by the Court for counsel.

5 Pre-briefing for the media

At its discretion, the Court may hold a pre-briefing for the media, normally a day or two before the media lock-up. The pre-briefing will cover the facts, any prior or related proceedings,  and arguments of the parties. The CPPG will be advised of the date and time of the pre-briefing in the notice of media lock-up.

6 Procedure on the day of the lock-up

6.1 The media and counsel lock-ups will start at the same time, normally 10 a.m. Eastern time.

6.2 The media lock-up will be conducted in a room to be designated by the Media Contact. The counsel lock-up will be conducted in another location to be designated by counsel (i.e., a virtual lock-up). [See section 7, Remote Release of Decisions to Counsel, below]

6.3 Before entering the media lock-up, attendees must surrender all phones and other electronic communication devices to a Court staff member for the duration of the lock-up.

6.4 Before entering the lock-up, attendees must sign a written undertaking prepared by the Court for media or counsel. No one may attend a lock-up without having first signed the undertaking.

6.5 Court staff members will be present at media lock-ups to collect signed undertakings and take custody of communication devices. The President of the CPPG or his or her designate will be present at media lock-ups to verify the CPPG accreditations of media attendees.

6.6 Decisions will be distributed to attendees at the beginning of the lock-up.

6.7 At the media lock-up, the Senior Legal Counsel, or his or her designate, will conduct a briefing on the judgment. This briefing is off the record, for information only, and not for attribution. No briefing will be provided at the counsel lock-up.

6.8 No one may leave the lock-up until the decision is released to the public, usually at 11:00 a.m. Eastern time.

6.9 The Court may release other decisions on a lock-up day.

7 Remote release of decisions to counsel

7.1 In cases where a media lock-up will take place, counsel may ask to receive the decision remotely (that is, at a location other than the Court).

7.2 As a condition of receiving the decision remotely, counsel must give a written undertaking prepared by the Court. Counsel must file this undertaking with the Registry at least two business days before the lock-up.

7.3 Remote delivery of a decision to counsel will occur at the beginning of the media lock-up.

7.4 Remote delivery of a decision to counsel will occur electronically, with protective and other measures that the Court deems appropriate.

7.5 Remote release of decisions to counsel is at the Court’s discretion. The Court reserves the right to release decisions remotely to counsel for the plaintiff(s) / applicant(s) / appellant(s) and defendant(s) / respondent(s) but not to counsel for any intervener(s).

8 Rights of the Court

The Court reserves the right to change its judgment lock-up procedure, to discontinue lock-ups and to refuse any given request for a lock-up.


For more information on lock-ups, please contact:

Date modified: 2019-04-14

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