What's New

Welcome to the "What's New?" section of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal website. This section will include information bulletins, links to news releases, event notices, new publications, speeches, photos and other items.

Media Release

September 26, 2017

Chief Justice Derek Green announced today that there will be a live webcast of the hearing of an appeal from the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, October 13, 2017.  The live webcast will be available at http://video.isilive.ca/nfld/remote.html

The case being webcast involves an appeal against a conviction for armed robbery and a sentence of six years for break, entry and theft in a dwelling house.  The issues on appeal include whether a statement made by a co-accused to the police should have been admitted into evidence at the trial in support of the conviction of the accused, and whether the sentence for break, entry and theft was a fit sentence.

This initiative of webcasting appeals is intended to promote public access to and understanding of the Court’s process.  If successful, the Court intends to engage in further webcasts of other hearings in the future.

Kathy Blake, Registrar of the Court of Appeal commented that “Some other provinces have begun using webcasting in their courts in recent years.  The webcasting of this appeal will continue to expand the Court of Appeal’s access to justice initiatives in Newfoundland and Labrador allowing the public a better understanding of legal processes and instilling public confidence in the Court through greater transparency of the courtroom.”

Although the courtroom in the Court of Appeal is open to the public, there is limited seating.  By webcasting the appeal, greater opportunity for the public to observe the appeal process will be provided.

The Honourable Andrew Parsons, Minister of Justice and Public Safety commented that “As administrators of justice, we have to do better to promote access to the courts as well as ensure the public understands the process. By using technology and sharing the court process via webcasting, we hope to make it easier for people to be engaged and learn more about the justice system in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

 Further information about the initiative and how to access the webcast can be obtained by contacting Kathy Blake, Registrar of the Court of Appeal, 709-729-0801; Email: kathyblake@supreme.court.nl.ca.

Media Release

June 30, 2017

Chief Justice Derek Green announced today that he will be stepping down as Chief Justice of Newfoundland and Labrador on December 1, 2017. Chief Justice Green has served as chief justice of the Province since 2009. Prior to that, he had been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trial Division since 2000. He has been a judge for over twenty-five years.

Chief Justice Green said that “I have enjoyed serving the people of the province immensely but after seventeen years as chief justice in both trial and appeal courts, it is time for me to step aside and let someone with new ideas and leadership skills provide new direction to the court.”

“By announcing my departure now, “ he said, “it will allow time to search for and make a new appointment without any transition period during which the Court will be without a chief justice.”

Chief Justice Green will continue to serve the Court of Appeal in the capacity of supernumerary (part-time) judge.

Chief Justice Green was initially appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court, Trial Division in the Judicial Centre of Grand Bank in 1992. He was transferred to the Judicial Centre of St. John’s in 1993 and thereafter to the Court of Appeal in 1996, where he continued to sit until he was made Chief Justice of the Trial Division in 2000. He remained as chief justice of the Trial Division until his appointment as Chief Justice in the Court of Appeal in 2009.

Chief Justice Green is also known as the author of the Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Constituency Allowances and Related Matters which made a series of recommendations, all of which were accepted by government and enacted into law within ten days of receipt of the report, in the wake of the constituency allowance scandal in 2007.

Media Release

Justice Frances P. O’Brien will be sworn in as a Judge of the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday, June 29, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. The Honourable J. Derek Green, Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal, will preside at the Ceremony. The Minute of the Meeting of the Committee of the Privy Council for Canada will be read by the Registrar of the Court of Appeal. Chief Justice Green will then administer the Oaths of Office, formally introduce Justice O’Brien and request invited speakers, including representatives of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Minister of Justice and Public Safety of Newfoundland and Labrador, the President of the Law Society and the President of the Canadian Bar Association, to respond.

This will be the first appointment to, and change in the composition of, the Court of Appeal in seven years.

The Swearing-In Ceremony will take place in Courtroom No. 1 in the main Courthouse of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Court House, Duckworth Street, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.

The media are welcome to videotape the proceedings and to take photographs.

For further information regarding this Ceremony, you may contact the Office of Connie Greene, Judicial Assistant to Chief Justice, at telephone number (709)729-7903 or email conniegreene@supreme.court.nl.ca.

June 2017

Mr. Justice Francis P. O'Brien is appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of NL, Court of Appeal

June 9, 2017 - Ottawa, Ontario - Department of Justice Canada  

The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointment under the new judicial application process announced on October 20, 2016. The new process emphasizes transparency, merit, and diversity, and will continue to ensure the appointment of jurists who meet the highest standards of excellence and integrity. 

Francis P. O’Brien, Director of Legal Education at the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, is appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Court of Appeal. He replaces Mr. Justice M.H. Rowe, who was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada on October 28, 2016.

Biography

Justice Francis P. O’Brien is a graduate of Memorial University (B.A. in French and political science), Dalhousie University (LL.B.) and the University of Cambridge (LL.M.). As part of the first generation of his family to attend university, Justice O’Brien was designated a Fellow of the Cambridge Commonwealth Trust and received numerous academic and professional awards.

Called to the Newfoundland and Labrador Bar in 1991, Justice O’Brien first practised civil litigation in St. John’s with a private firm. He later became the Director of Legal Education with the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. In this role, he has educated more than 500 new lawyers in the provincial Bar Admission Course. In addition, he has coordinated the development and delivery of more than 150 continuing legal education programs for members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Bar.

Justice O’Brien has also been an Adjunct Professor at Memorial University since 1994, teaching courses in Canadian constitutional law, international law, governance, and public policy. Over the years, he has taught more than 3,000 students. Justice O’Brien has also served as president of the Association of Canadian Legal Education Directors, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII), the Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s Technical Advisory Group for the National Entry to Practice Competency Profile, and the Interdisciplinary Committee on Ethics in Human Research (Memorial University).

 

Mr. Justice Malcolm Rowe Appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada

Mr. Justice Malcolm Rowe has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada on October 28, 2016.

Media Release

Court of Appeal Legal Information Session

Court to hold event to promote access to and understanding of its process

St. John’s, NL, October 14, 2016:  On October 20, 2016 the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador – Court of Appeal will hold a legal information session for the public. It will run from 7-10 p.m. at the Main Courthouse in downtown St. John’s, 309 Duckworth Street.

 The event is open not just to those who have cases before the Court, but to any members of the public who are interested in the law, the legal process or wish to expand their knowledge about the legal system.

 The information session is intended to promote access to and understanding of the Court’s process. It will take place just 3 days after new Court of Appeal Rules, which govern the Court’s civil appeal process, come into force. It will feature a talk about the courts of Newfoundland and Labrador by the Chief Justice of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Hon. J. Derek Green, as well as presentations about the appeal process and a tour of the courthouse.

 Legal organizations in the province including the Legal Aid Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Canadian Bar Association, Newfoundland and Labrador branch, the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador will also have representatives at the event and will provide information and answer questions by the public.

 There is no charge for the event. For more information, please visit the Court’s website at http://court.nl.ca/supreme/appeal/news.html.

New Court of Appeal Rules Published

Check out the new Court of Appeal Rules, Forms, and Scale of Costs published on July 29th, 2016 in the NL Gazette!  The new Rules will become effective October 17, 2016.

Court of Appeal Legal Assistance Clinic

On June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador-Court of Appeal launched the Court of Appeal Legal Assistance Clinic, a pilot project intended to promote access to justice and legal education. The clinic has had a very successful first year and, as the clinic enters its second year, it is hoped we will continue to build on this success and continue to improve access to justice for people throughout the province.

The Legal Assistance Clinic offers assistance to people who do not have a lawyer and who wish to have some legal advice about their appeal. The clinic offers free 30 minute appointments with volunteer lawyers who practice in Newfoundland and Labrador. Depending on the nature of the issues involved and the needs that are identified, further assistance may be available.

The next clinic will take place on December 14, 2017, from 6:00 p.m. -9:00 p.m. To sign up for an appointment, please email calac@supreme.court.nl.ca or call (709) 729-0066. For more information visit the Court of Appeal website at: http://court.nl.ca/supreme/appeal/legal_assistance_clinic.html. Telephone appointments can be arranged for people outside of St. John’s.


Review of Rules of Court

The Court of Appeal rules committee determined that the 1986 Civil Rules of Court applying to this Court require revision. It was also decided that the time had come to separate the rules applicable to this Court from the Trial Division rules. In addition to simplifying the rules, there are some changes to procedure intended to streamline the process and reduce costs to litigants.

The rules will be accompanied by several forms (not yet completed) together with guidelines to assist in using the rules.

Questions, suggestions, concerns, omissions, etc. should be forwarded by email to CourtofAppealInquiries@supreme.court.nl.ca

In order to facilitate timely completion of the new rules by the rules committee, we ask that you provide any comments no later than Thursday, March 24, 2016.

Media Release

Court of Appeal Announces Wireless Guest Access
Wireless services now available at the Court of Appeal

St. John’s, NL, April 22, 2015: The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador – Court of Appeal announced today that the Court will now offer complimentary wireless services to any individual with a business purpose at the Court.

The wireless services are part of the Court’s many efforts to use modern technology to facilitate proceedings and to improve access to justice. They are connected with the Supreme Court’s Information Technology Strategy, which was released in February 2014. “Having the right tools to do a good job is important. The Court welcomes any technology that could help lawyers and litigants advance their hearings,” said Chief Justice Derek Green of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Sometimes a new issue comes up in the course of a hearing. In the past, lawyers and litigants had to return to their homes or offices to research or find missing materials. Now, with wireless access, they will be able to do this from the courtroom,” Chief Justice Green noted.

Minister of Justice and Public Safety, Darin King, applauded the Court of Appeal on advancing the use of modern technology and in so doing, assisting lawyers and parties in the presentation of their case.

Kathy Blake, Deputy Registrar of the Court of Appeal, said that “the Court is grateful to the Office of the Chief Information Officer of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for providing and maintaining this new wireless network.”

Anyone with business at the Court can apply to the Court’s Registry before their hearing for access to the wireless network. Login information will be provided after users agree to the Court’s Wireless Guest Access & Electronic Devices Policy and the Office of the Chief Information Officer’s Terms of Service.

The Court welcomes you to read its new Wireless and Electronic Devices Policy.

Media Release

Court of Appeal Launches Twitter Accounts
Accounts to inform public of hearings, decisions, rules changes, and news

St. John’s, NL, February 16, 2014:  The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador – Court of Appeal announced today that the Court will be launching four Twitter accounts.

The accounts will promote access to justice and public understanding of the legal system. Members of the public or the legal profession will be able to follow them to receive updates about upcoming hearings, recent decisions, rules changes, or news.
 
Joining Twitter is part of an overall effort to modernize the Court’s operations. Other steps have included the recent public decisions database, the Court Rules Project, and the Court’s information technology strategy.

“The Court is interested in any tools that might help make justice more transparent and accessible,” said Derek Green, Chief Justice of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“The Court’s doors are open and its decisions are public,” Chief Justice Green noted. “But it’s difficult to know which hearing to attend or which decision to read. Twitter supplements the traditional aspects of accessibility with real-time information about today’s decision or tomorrow’s hearing.”

The Minister of Justice and Public Safety, Judy Manning, acknowledged that the Court’s use of social media will promote access to justice and will bring information on matters before the Court of Appeal to a greater number of our citizens.
 
Kathy Blake, Deputy Registrar of the Court of Appeal, commented that “the Court’s Twitter accounts will allow members of the public and the legal profession to choose what they want to follow—upcoming hearings, recent decisions, rules changes, or other Court news.”

Follow @nlcadocket for information about upcoming hearings, @nlcadecisions for recent decisions, @nlcarules for rules and policy updates, and @nlcaupdates for other news.

 

Media Release

Court of Appeal Announces New Website Launch
Searchable database to publish Court of Appeal decisions

St. John’s, NL, February 9, 2014:  The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador – Court of Appeal announced today that the Court’s website will now host a searchable database of decisions by the Court of Appeal.

The database is part of the Court’s many efforts to increase access to justice and is one of the initiatives of the Supreme Court’s Information Technology Strategy, which was released in February 2014.  The online searchable database is also one of many steps that the Court is taking to implement Justice Cromwell’s 2013 Report – Access to Civil and Family Justice.  “The Court continues to improve its services. It continues to become more transparent and accessible,” said Chief Justice Derek Green of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Access to justice at the Court of Appeal can be difficult because appeals are based on legal arguments. Self-represented litigants can struggle with this. Our database will help self-represented litigants research the Court’s case law to prepare for their appeals – and perhaps help them prepare their cases before an appeal is necessary,” Chief Justice Green noted.

Judy Manning, Minister of Justice and Public Safety, acknowledged the work that the Supreme Court is doing to become more open and transparent and offers her congratulations to those involved in making access to justice advances through the use of technology.

Kathy Blake, Deputy Registrar of the Court of Appeal, commented that “this database will also allow the public and members of the legal community to keep abreast of legal developments from our Court.”

The database currently includes all decided cases from 2009 to the present except some decisions with publication ban concerns. Older decisions and redacted publication ban decisions will be available on the Court’s database in due course. In the meantime, the Court is directing researchers and the public to other online sources for these cases.

The Court welcomes you to visit its new database at http://court.nl.ca/supreme/appeal/decisions.html.

 

Cheques and Money Orders

Effective immediately, cheques and money orders remitted to the Supreme Court must be made payable to “Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador”. Cheques and money orders payable otherwise will be returned for correction. If you have questions, please contact the court house in your area.

 

Rules of Court Project

Please see the following Notice to the Profession announcing the new Rules of Court Project.

 

NOTICE TO THE PROFESSION

 

Rules of Court Project

 

Civil proceedings in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador are governed by the Rules of the Supreme Court, 1986 (the “Rules”) which apply to both the Trial Division and the Court of Appeal. Since their introduction in 1986 the legal landscape in Newfoundland and Labrador has transformed dramatically. The numbers of cases being heard are decreasing and of those being heard more cases, especially those involving family law, have litigants who represent themselves. The nature of the legal business also appears to be changing. Fewer cases in the commercial, business and tort areas are being heard. These developments may be related to the complexity of the procedures that must be followed, leading to unacceptably high costs. In addition, more litigants in the commercial and insurance spheres appear to be resorting to alternative dispute resolution procedures outside the court system so as to reduce costs or to have greater control over their choice of adjudicator.

From time to time, both Courts receive complaints from members of the bar and from self-represented litigants that the rules of procedure are, variously, too cumbersome, unnecessarily complex and written in language that could be more intelligible. These complaints mirror criticisms in other parts of the country which have led to reforms elsewhere. It has been suggested that the rules contribute to unnecessarily high costs of litigation and can constitute a barrier to access to justice.

Another criticism that is sometimes leveled at the rules of procedure is that they do not recognize or encourage the use of modern technology in the court system. Such technology has the potential to provide court services at lower cost to litigants. While some inroads have been made on this front, many other opportunities remain to be tapped.

While ad hoc rule revisions are always being undertaken by the two Courts to attempt to address these issues, these trends make a strong case for a comprehensive updating of the rules of procedure in both the Trial Division and the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador is therefore undertaking a comprehensive review of its procedural rules. This review will be done through two separate, but related, programs; one will address the rules of procedure in the Trial Division and the other the rules of procedure in the Court of Appeal. The structure of this work, involving two separate programs under the umbrella of one “Rules of Court Project”, recognizes the distinctiveness and the different needs, functions and procedures of the two divisions of the Supreme Court.

In completing this project, the two Courts will reach out to members of the profession at various times for input and feedback so that this group has a voice in the reform. While consultation on specific matters will follow, at this time we ask that if you have general suggestions or concerns with respect to the rules and procedures in the Court of Appeal that you communicate these to the Legal Officer of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal (michaelcollins@supreme.court.nl.ca / 729-0254).

 

J. DEREK GREEN

Chief Justice of

Newfoundland and Labrador

 

 RAYMOND P. WHALEN

Chief Justice of the Trial Division