Tribunal records to become more accessible
The Superior Court recently released an important decision about public access to records in administrative tribunals, including the Ontario Labour Relations Board and the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.
The case originated in a constitutional challenge brought by the Toronto Star, after journalists were denied access to records in two different cases before these tribunals. The Star argued that denying the public access to tribunal records is a violation of the “open courts principle” and a breach of freedom of expression protected by s. 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Superior Court agreed, finding that the difficulties the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“FIPPA”) creates in accessing tribunal records violates the openness principle and s. 2(b) of the Charter.
This case has important implications. Going forward, litigants should be aware that the records they submit in the course of proceedings before administrative tribunals are presumptively accessible to the public through a Freedom of Information Request (“FOI”) under FIPPA.
The Court did, however, order a 12-month delay before this presumption will come into force. This will allow the legislature time to make any amendments to the FIPPA, and/or to allow tribunals to develop new protocols to determine when records will be released pursuant to an FOI.
Mary-Elizabeth Dill has prepared a more detailed description of the case here.
You can read the case here.