Comment: The Constitutional Domestication of our Courts — Openness and Publicity in Judicial Proceedings under the Charter

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Source Publication

The Media, The Courts and The Charter. Toronto, ON: Carswell, 1986.


charter; Common law; Criminal Code; jamie cameron; openness; publication bans


This chapter discusses openness in the common law tradition and considers how the underlying values of this vital principle should apply to restrictions on access to proceedings and publication bans in the era of the Charter. It argues that closure of trial proceedings, entirely or in part, should rarely be upheld under the Charter. The Criminal Code provision dealing with closure is unnecessarily broad and can only be applied constitutionally in a narrow range of circumstances. Publication bans also offend the principles of openness and publicity. Mandatory bans should not be found constitutional in the absence of compelling circumstances. Prior restraints cannot be justified as a matter of routine, and the government should be required to articulate compelling reasons in every case. Likewise, where identities are shielded from disclosure, the government must be required to give compelling reasons why the public cannot know the names of participants in the criminal justice process.

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