Information for Members of the Media and Public regarding the "Author" of Judgments

From time to time, media reports have erroneously attributed a decision of the court to a particular judge as author of the decision. For the assistance of members of the media and other readers of decisions of the Court of Appeal, I wish to provide the following information.

All decisions of the court are signed by each of the members of the panel that heard the appeal. The order of the signatures does not always reflect the author of the decision.

Decisions of this court are commonly released in one of two manners. In the first, the author is explicitly identified at the beginning of the judgment and other judges signify their concurrence with (or dissent from) that decision. In such cases, the author signs first and the other judges endorse their concurrence below the signature.

In other decisions, the judgment is silent as to the author or the judgment indicates that it was made "By the Court". In these cases, the decision is not attributable to any particular judge as, generally, the judgment was the product of significant contribution by all members of the panel. The judgment is, in essence, authored "by the court". The decision is signed, in accordance with tradition, in the order of seniority of the members of the panel that heard the appeal. Consequently, the order of the signatures in such cases is not in any way indicative as to the author of the decision.

When all of the judges have signed a decision that has been under reserve, it is ready to be released to the parties and made available to the public. The final task of the president of the panel that heard the appeal is to verify that it is ready to be released and authorize its release to the parties by staff members of the Court of Appeal. This administrative step is traditionally confirmed by endorsing his or her initials on the last page of the decision. As a result, these initials do not signify the author of the decision.

As there is some significance to the manner in which a decision is rendered, care should be taken in reporting a decision to properly identify the author, whether it is "by the court" or by a particular judge.

John Kromkamp
Senior Legal Officer

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