Federal Court FAQ
- How can I find out if a case is before the Federal Court and see its procedural history?
You can search the Federal Court case index and look at individual case docket information (the "case history") on the Court's web site at Court Files or else by contacting your local Registry Office.
- How can I get a copy of a decision of the Court?
An entry is made in the on-line Court Files setting out a summary of each decision once it is issued. If formal reasons for decision are also issued, they will be made available on the Court's web site at the Decisions page within a few days after the decision is signed. You can also contact your local Registry Office to request a copy. Note: there is a fee of $0.40 per page to get a copy of Court decisions, either in person or by fax.
- Can I receive an e-mail notification when Federal Court decisions are rendered?
The Federal Court has two subscription services for Court decisions:
- Federal Court Bulletins - provides notice of Court decisions for which there is special media interest as well as other Court news such as judicial appointments or retirements. To subscribe to the media bulletin, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “Media Subscription” in the subject line.
- Federal Court Decisions - provides notice of all reasons for decision of the Federal Court when they are posted on the Court's web site. This Bulletin is available in e-mail format only. To subscribe, please follow this link: Decision Subscription.
- How can I get a copy of a document filed in Court?
The Registry makes an entry in the Court's electronic docket system each time a document is filed in Court, and you can see this docket entry on-line via the Court Files. In order to get access to the documents filed in Court, you must either visit your local Registry Office or else call the Registry to request a copy by fax. Note: there is a fee of $0.40 per page to get a copy of Court documents, either in person or by fax.
As long as COVID precautions are in effect, copies of public documents which are already in electronic format can be sent by e-mail, upon request to the Registry: email@example.com. Indicate the Court File number in the subject of your email. In the text, you must clearly identify the document number and its name (this information is located in the Recorded Entry Summary column).
- Is the schedule of Federal Court hearings published?
Yes, the list is available on the Hearing List page.
- Are hearings open to the public?
With some exceptions, the Court's hearings are open to the public. To find out when the Court will be sitting, check the Court's list of scheduled hearings under Hearing List.
- I would like to participate in a pending case. Is this possible?
Although most cases before the Federal Court are open to the public, only the parties to the case, or those people who have been granted official intervener status pursuant to Rule 109 of the Federal Courts Rules, are permitted to present documents or arguments to the Court.
- Are Federal Court proceedings recorded?
Federal Court hearings are not televised, though some require the attendance of a stenographer, who makes a written record of the proceedings. If a stenographer is present, this will be noted in the Court's docket entry for the file, available at Court Files. Note: transcripts, if available, must be purchased directly from the external Court reporter. To obtain a copy, please call the Court reporter listed in the Docket entry.
- Can I bring an electronic device to make my own recording of a Federal Court hearing?
Photography and audio / video recording in the hearing room are prohibited, except if the presiding judge, after consultation with the chief justice or his delegate, gives authorization. Photography and audio / video recording or transmission in the vicinity of the hearing room are prohibited, except if the presiding judge, after consultation with the chief justice or his delegate, gives authorization.
- I have a legal concern and I need to know what I should do. Can you assist me?
Our office is not allowed to provide legal advice but can provide some information - see Registry Services. For legal advice, you should contact a lawyer, a Legal Aid Office in your area or a community legal clinic - see Finding Legal Help.
- How is a case brought before the Federal Court?
In immigration and refugee cases, the applicant must first receive special permission (or "leave") from the Court, pursuant to section 72 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, for a full oral hearing to be held. Such cases are therefore instituted by filing both an application for leave as well as an application for judicial review, along with the applicable filing fees, pursuant to the Federal Courts Immigration and Refugee Protection Rules.
In most other matters, cases are instituted simply by filing either a notice of application for judicial review or a statement of claim, depending on the nature of the case, along with the applicable filing fees, pursuant to the Federal Courts Rules. These documents may be filed in any Registry office of the Court.
- Do I need a lawyer to prepare and file documents in the Federal Court?
Although you may represent yourself at the Federal Court, we recommend that you retain a lawyer because the procedures are complex. If you are not a lawyer, you may only represent yourself. Rule 120 of the Federal Courts Rules provides that a corporation must be represented by a lawyer unless, in special circumstances, the Court grants leave to be represented by an officer, partner, or member.
- Do I have to pay a fee to institute a case before the Federal Court?
Yes. Tariff A of the Federal Courts Rules sets out the applicable fees. You may pay by using a valid VISA, MasterCard or American Express credit card or by cash, debit, a personal check, or a money order. When paying by personal check or money order, it must be made payable to The Receiver General of Canada.
- What are the deadlines for filing documents?
Rule 6 of the Federal Courts Rules governs the computation of time periods provided by the Rules. You will find below an example of how Rule 6 would apply to the filing of motion records pursuant to Rules 364 and 365.
Service and Filing of Motion Records
Pursuant to subsection 364 (3) of the Federal Courts Rules and subject to certain exceptions set out in that provision, “[…] the motion record shall be served and filed at least three days before the day set out in the notice of motion for the hearing of the motion”. Under subsection 365(1), “[...] a respondent to a motion shall serve a respondent’s motion record [...] not later than 2:00 p.m. on the day that is two days before the hearing of the motion.”
The use of “at least”, found in subsection 364(3), triggers the “clear day” rule of subsection 27(1) of the Interpretation Act in accordance with Rule 6 of the Federal Courts Rules. This would mean that, for a Friday motion, the moving party’s record must be served and filed by Monday, as the day of filing and the day of the motion are excluded.
Then, under subsection 365(1), the respondent would have to serve and file its motion record “no later than 2:00 p.m. on the day that is two days before the motion.” This would be 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
- What is the mandate of the Federal Court?
The Federal Court is Canada's national trial court which hears and decides legal disputes arising in the federal domain, including claims against the Government of Canada, civil suits in federally-regulated areas and challenges to federal government decisions. Its authority derives primarily from the Federal Courts Act.
- What is the Court's address?
The Court has Registry offices in major cities throughout Canada. The Court's central mailing address in Ottawa is:
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H9
(613) 992-4238; TDD: (613) 995-4640; Fax: (613) 952-3653 (non-immigration)
Fax: (613) 947-2141 (immigration)
- What are the Court's opening hours?
The Court's offices are open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. See Holidays for a list of days when the Court's Registry office is closed.
- Who are the members of the Federal Court?
The Court is currently composed of a Chief Justice, an Associate Chief Justice, 34 full-time puisne judges, 8 supernumerary judges and 9 prothonotaries. See a complete list of the Members of the Court.
- How many judges are assigned to hear a case?
A single judge or prothonotary is assigned. A judge may hear any matter within the jurisdiction of the Court, whereas Prothonotaries hear those matters set out at Rule 51 of the Federal Courts Rules.
- How does one address a judge?
Counsel are reminded that they may choose to address the judges of the Federal Court as "Justice", "Mr. Justice" or "Madam Justice". Counsel are asked to refrain from addressing the judges as "My Lord", "My Lady", "Your Lordship," or "Your Ladyship." In writing, the judges are addressed as "The Honourable Madam Justice" or as "The Honourable Mr. Justice".
- How are members of the Federal Court chosen?
Pursuant to sections 5.2 and 5.3 of the Federal Courts Act, judges are appointed by the Governor in Council from among judges of a superior, county or district court or from among barristers or advocates of at least ten years' standing at the Bar of any province. Each holds office during good behaviour, until he or she retires or attains the age of 75 years, but is removable for incapacity or misconduct in office before that time by the Governor General on address of the Senate and House of Commons. Of the judges, the Federal Courts Act requires that at least six be appointed from Quebec.
Pursuant to section 12 of the Federal Courts Act, prothonotaries are appointed by the Governor in Council from among barristers or advocates at the Bar of any province.
- How do I file a complaint against a judge?
You must first determine whether your complaint is about a decision of a judge or the conduct of a judge. If it is about the decision of a judge, contact a lawyer, legal aid office or community legal clinic to determine whether or not you might be able to appeal the decision to the Federal Court of Appeal. A Faculty of Law at a nearby University may also have a program to provide legal assistance.
If you have a complaint about the conduct of a Federal Court judge, you should write to the Canadian Judicial Council, Suite 450, 112 Kent Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0W8, fax (613) 998-8889 providing the details of the conduct which is of concern to you. For additional information on the Canadian Judicial Council, visit its site at: www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca.
If you have a complaint about the conduct of a Federal Court Prothonotary, you should write to the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H9, fax (613) 943-0354 providing the details of the conduct which is of concern to you.
- How can I obtain a copy of a Judge's speech?
Some of the speeches by Federal Court judges are available at Speeches.
- I would like to apply for a position as a law clerk with a Federal Court judge to complete my articling requirements after completion of law school. Who can I contact?
The Federal Court contacts all Canadian law faculties each Fall with application materials for the clerkship program. See Law Clerk Program or contact Karina Desmarais Yelle at (613) 995-4547 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Date modified: 2022-03-28