Can I Access Ontario Court Documents?
You can access Ontario court documents in most cases as many court documents are available to the public, such as:
- Any current list the court of civil proceedings commenced maintains;
- Any documents filed in a civil proceeding;
- Any judgments entered, unless a statutory provision, common law rule or court order restricts access.
Public access to criminal court cases is also restricted when:
- Someone has been pardoned;
- Someone received an absolute or conditional discharge;
- The documents have been sealed due to a court order.
You can, however, get access to documents that are covered by a publication ban. However, you must not publically share the contents of these documents.
If the document pertains to a court case you were involved in, you can obtain the judgement once it has been issued in your case. You can get this from your lawyer or from the court office. You will have to pay a photocopy fee if you wish to make a copy of the judgement from the court file.
If the case does not directly involve you, however, you may have to pay an access fee to view these files. However, there is no fee to access criminal case court documents in the Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice. There are also no fees for:
- The Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice; or
- Family cases heard by the Superior Court of Justice that are not appeals.
You will have to pay a fee to view files from the Court of Appeal for Ontario and civil cases in the Superior Court of Justice.
If you want photocopies of documents or an audio file of a day’s hearing, you will have to pay fees.
You can see how much you will have to pay in access and copy fees by visiting the Ontario Attorney General Web site.
Your access may be hampered if the court documents you want are older than three years. Post court dockets may be destroyed after three years.
While there is no central database for Ontario court documents, you can look for some judgements at all levels of Ontario court through the Canadian Legal Information Institute. Most Ontario Court of Appeal decisions can be found online through the Ontario Court of Appeal.
For information on youth court records and who can view them, please consult the Justice for Children and Youth website.