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I: Departmental Overview

A. Message from the Registrar

Performance Reports have a tendency to focus on new and unusual achievements and to gloss over accomplishments in ongoing activities. For the Office of the Registrar, which has a stable mission from year to year, it is of primary importance to underline its notable performance in attaining its ongoing goals and objectives and secondly to highlight the results achieved in dealing with special challenges.

Expected results in ongoing strategic priorities were met or exceeded as demonstrated by the statistical evidence regarding workload and by feedback regarding quality of service.

With respect to special initiatives, the highlight of the year was the report resulting from the Registry survey on client satisfaction. It indicated clearly that the services offered to litigants meet their needs and rated the staff as courteous, accessible, knowledgeable and efficient and as providing high quality information. These ratings reflect the high caliber of all of the staff of the Supreme Court and their dedication to the work of this national institution.

The survey also canvassed litigants` requirements and preferences with respect to modes of service delivery, confirming that service in-person, by telephone, by mail and on- line is expected. This result well illustrates the on-going challenge facing the Office of the Registrar of maintaining numerous channels of communication, both from a human and a financial perspective. Clearly, multi-channel communications will be required for the foreseeable future to appropriately serve the Court’s internal and external users. The Office of the Registrar will build on this year’s successes, such as the new Library Management Service, with next year’s anticipated successes, such as posting factums on the Court’s website.

The Office of the Registrar derives its successes from the foresight and motivation of its staff to pursue new avenues to deliver services, while maintaining highly reliable processes and systems. Next year’s challenges in this regard will be particularly daunting as we will be moving from years of planning towards the implementation of the Court Modernization Program, a program consolidating four major projects: Courtroom AV/IT, Electronic Document and Records Management System, Electronic-Filing and Word Processing. This modernization initiative will profoundly transform internal processes and enhance service delivery.

Success will require competent and dedicated staff. The Public Service Employee Survey confirmed that the Court can rely on such. However, in order to maintain this situation, it is necessary to devote effort to the retention and recruitment of a workforce to meet the requirements of a modern court. We hope that the implementation next year of an integrated human resources and business plan, which has also been in the planning stages, will help the Office of the Registrar in this regard.

I am confident that the staff is ready and proud to rise to the occasion in its dedication to serve the Canadian population.

B. Management Representation Statement

Management Representation Statement

I submit for tabling in Parliament, the 2006-2007 Departmental Performance Report (DPR) for the Supreme Court of Canada.

This document has been prepared based on the reporting principles contained in the Guide for the Preparation of Part III of the 2006-2007 Estimates: Reports on Plans and Priorities and Departmental Performance Reports:

  • It adheres to the specific reporting requirements outlined in the Treasury Board Secretariat guidance;
  • It is based on the Supreme Court of Canada’s approved Strategic Outcome and Program Activity Architecture that were approved by the Treasury Board;
  • It presents consistent, comprehensive, balanced and reliable information;
  • It provides a basis of accountability for the results achieved with the resources and authorities entrusted to it; and
  • It reports finances based on approved numbers from the Estimates and the Public Accounts of Canada.

Name : _____________________
Anne Roland

Title : Registrar

Date: _____________________

C. Summary Information

Reason for Existence

As the final court of appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada serves Canadians by leading the development of common and civil law through its decisions on questions of public importance. The mandate of the Supreme Court of Canada is to have and exercise an appellate, civil and criminal jurisdiction within and throughout Canada, which it meets by hearing and deciding cases of public importance. In accordance with the Supreme Court Act, the Supreme Court of Canada consists of the Chief Justice and the eight Puisne Judges.

The Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada exists to provide the full gamut of services the Court needs in order to hear cases and render decisions, and serves as the interface between the litigants and the Court. The focus of this report is the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada.

More detailed information on the Court’s responsibilities, the hearing process and judgments is available on the Internet (

Financial Resources ($ million)

Planned Spending Total Authorities Actual Spending


Human Resources (Full Time Equivalents)

Planned Actual Difference

Status on Performance

Strategic Outcome: To provide the best possible decision-making environment for the Supreme Court of Canada.

Priority and Type
Program Activity - Expected Result
Performance Status
2006 -07
Planned Spending
($ million)
Actual Spendind
($ milion)
1. Process cases without delay (ongoing)

Process hearings and decisions-

• Independence of the Court

• Process hearings and decisions promptly



Exceeded expectations






2. Provide information (ongoing)

Process hearing and decisions -

• Access to Court services

• Access to information

Successfully met
3. Manage risk (previously committed to in 2004/05)

Process hearings and decisions

• Sound management

Successfully met
4. Build capacity (previously committed to in 2004/05)

Process hearings and decision -

• Productive workforce


Successfully met

D. Summary Departmental Performance

Operating Environment and Context

The environment within which the Office of the Registrar must carry out its activities is continually evolving. The legal environment is becoming increasingly complicated and technological advancements place ongoing pressure on the Court to update its facilities and services. In addition, the Office of the Registrar is faced with greater public demand for information and services, all in the context of a changing and highly complex judicial environment. The globalization of the law, democratization, human rights issues and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms create an environment where the Court is regularly faced with high profile issues for resolution. The pressure on the Court to “get it right” is unrelenting and daunting, which in turn places significant demands on the staff of the Office of the Registrar who are required to undertake in-depth research and analysis, respond to requests for information from the public and media, and provide assistance to the litigants and lawyers.

Changes and trends in court administration include:

Reduced caseload of the Court. The workload of the Office of the Registrar in terms of caseload has been very stable over the last 10 years (around 90 appeals and 600 leave applications per year). However, in 2006, the number of cases decreased to about 80 appeals heard and 506 applications. The impact of the reduction in applications for leave will be reflected in the number of appeals heard in 2007. It is not likely that this reduction in caseload will be permanent. In general, cases have become more complex.

Continued focus on electronic exchange of information. Electronic tools continue to be more prevalent in the way courts are interfacing with the public as well as in the manner in which courts exchange information. There is an increasing and continuing expectation from stakeholders for electronic access (e.g., in the courtroom, library). Courts are adopting different e-filing practices depending on the nature of their caseload. The number of electronic cases from the lower courts is increasing. This highlights the need for greater interoperability with court users and between courts, and has important implications regarding public access to court files, and the development of common information standards with respect to e-filing and how judicial information is created, kept and moved through the court system.

Changes regarding access to court records. A Model Policy on access to court records was issued by the Canadian Judicial Council in August 2006. Recent legislative changes, such as new privacy legislation, have implications in terms of privacy and on-line access to court information. The Office of the Registrar undertook a project to adapt the Model Policy and develop a policy for electronic access to appeal factums that would be suitable to the requirements of the Court. A draft policy was developed and should be implemented during the next Fiscal Year.

• Increasing number of cases involving secrecy, privacy and security concerns. There is more sealing of documents. Practices and policies vary between provinces and courts, and the SCC must be able to deal with these differences. This has implications in terms of the ability of the Court to identify and manage sensitive court files, and requires a more integrated approach by the Court, greater adaptability, increased tightening up of our processes, additional safeguards in our case management system, and greater staff awareness. The Court has implemented policies and procedures to handle sensitive Court information.

Increased sharing of information on processes and practices between courts. Increasingly, courts are sharing their experiences, on such matters as e-filing, performance measurement, etc., in a more honest and forthcoming fashion and at an earlier stage, including successes, failures, and lessons learned. For example, the Office of the Registrar is increasingly working in close collaboration with other legal communities on e-filing and information and data management. These exchanges of information have become more structured, through such mechanisms as the Association of Canadian Court Administrators (ACCA), and the creation of other venues such as a Canadian Court Centre of Technology (CCCT).

Benefits to Canadians

The importance of the Court's decisions for Canadian society is well recognized. The Court assures uniformity, consistency and correctness in the articulation, development and interpretation of legal principles throughout the Canadian judicial system. Its jurisdiction is derived from the Supreme Court Act and other Acts of Parliament such as the Criminal Code.

During 2006, the Court considered roughly 500 applications for leave to appeal, heard 80 appeals, and rendered judgment in 79 appeals. The following table shows statistics on the Court’s caseload for the past ten years.

Caseload 1996 to 2006

  1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Cases Filed
Complete applications for leave to appeal 561 637 604 585 642 621 523 550 568 544 506
Notices of appeal as of right 43 34 30 15 17 21 13 12 12 16 7
Application for Leave
Submitted to the Court 573 615 572 458 640 668 498 609 559 575 477
Granted (pending) 67 68 70 60 84 79 53 75 83 65 55
Percentage granted 12 11 12 13 13 12 11 12 15 11 12
Appeals Heard
Total number 118 104 106 75 78 96 72 82 83 93 80
As or right 49 37 30 19 14 17 16 16 13 13 13
By leave 69 67 76 56 64 79 56 66 70 80 67
Hearing days 82 76 71 55 57 62 51 56 61 62 56
Appeal Judgments
Total number 124 107 92 73 72 91 88 81 78 89 79

The Office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court of Canada benefits Canadians by providing the services that the Court requires to hear cases and render its decisions, by providing information and giving access to the Court and its services, by processing hearings and decisions promptly, and by assuming a leadership role within the legal community.

By providing information and facilitating access to information on the Court, the Office of the Registrar ensures that:

  • Litigants and the legal community are well-served;
  • The general public is well-informed of the workings and decisions of the Court;
  • The media can report on Court decisions and their effects in a fair and impartial manner; and
  • The work of the Court becomes better understood both nationally and internationally.

The responsive and efficient service provided by the Office of the Registrar to litigants and the legal community means smoother legal proceedings, better use of public funds, and less stress on litigants and employees.

As the highest court in Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada sets precedents for other courts and tribunals. The Office of the Registrar plays a leadership role in court management. The Office of the Registrar benefits the federal, provincial and international judicial communities through the exchange of information and best practices on various topics such as case management, e-filing, and reporting of decisions.

Overall Results of the Office of the Registrar

The Office of the Registrar was generally successful in meeting expectations identified in its 2006-2007 Report on Plans and Priorities. Section II of this report provides more detailed information on results; however, the highlights are included here, as follows:

1. Process cases without delay. The Office of the Registrar continued to make improvements in the time lapses between the filing of application for leave and the decision between application for leave, and the date leave granted (or date notice of appeal as of right filed) and hearing. However, the elapsed time between the hearing and judgment increased for the second year in a row. This priority is also measured by feedback regarding quality of service. The Office of the Registrar engaged a private sector firm in 2006/07 to conduct a client satisfaction survey of recent Registry Branch clients, including counsel, agents and self-represented litigants. The overall feedback from clients was very positive, with three out of four respondents indicating they were “very satisfied” with the service they received, and virtually all respondents (99%) stating they were “satisfied” or “very satisfied”.

2. Provide information. This priority is focussed on the provision of information to stakeholders outside of the Office of the Registrar (such as the public, the media and the legal community) as well as to internal users, and as such is addressed by a wide range of activities. Overall, considerable progress has been made in this area. The survey conducted of Registry Branch clients (see paragraph above) reflects positively on the Office of the Registrar’s efforts in this area. A draft policy for electronic access to appeal factums was developed, a special web portal for self represented litigants is near completion and detailed specifications for access to electronic records in the Courtroom during the hearing of an appeal have been finalized. Internally, progress was made through commencement of work on an enhanced information management infrastructure. Finally, the Office of the Registrar was a key player in the planning and organization of the 2006 Annual General meetings of the Association of Canadian Court Administrators (ACCA) and the Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions, which offered a further, if informal, means of providing information on the Court.

A key achievement was the development of a file classification plan, which is an important component of the Office of the Registrar’s planned Electronic Document and Records Management System (EDRMS).

3. Manage risks. The Office of the Registrar has made progress towards this priority by implementing an integrated approach for identifying, assessing and managing all risks facing the Court and the Office of the Registrar. Security continues to be a key concern in terms of risk management, and the Office of the Registrar continually reviews and revises the security regime. Key activities undertaken during 2006/7 include:

  • Development of a security policy which will be finalized in the new year.
  • Approval of the Business Continuity Plan framework & detailed Business Continuity Plans.
  • Submission of Management of Information Technology Security (MITS) report.

A significant risk over the past number of years has been the age and condition of audio visual equipment in the Courtroom, and the absence of modern information technology equipment. The audio visual equipment, while being regularly maintained, is old, and has had service problems which have lead on occasion to some operational issues. The absence of information technology equipment has left the Court lagging behind lower courts, and has resulted in a continuous reliance on paper-based means of presenting cases. Both of these issues have been recognized, and in October 2006 with receipt of Effective Project Approval, the Office of the Registrar launched the Courtroom Audio-Visual / Information Technology Project, which is addressing these concerns.

4. Build capacity. This priority includes a number of elements, and progress was made in each of these as follows:

a. People capacity: The Office of the Registrar has a motivated and committed workforce, as is demonstrated by consistently positive Public Service Employee Survey results. However, recruitment and retention of staff with the required skills continues to be a challenge. In addition, the Office of the Registrar devoted considerable efforts towards the enhancement and formalization of a Human Resource planning process. At the end of the fiscal year, the Office of the Registrar was very close to completion of the first draft of the resulting Human Resource plan. Another priority was the integration of Human Resource and business planning. For the first time, Human Resource considerations were a formal part of the individual sector business planning processes. Work remains, however, in order to have an fully integrated (i.e., including Human Resource and asset considerations) business plan for the Office of the Registrar as a whole.

b. Information management / technology capacity: Many enhancements were made to the Office of the Registrar’s information technology infrastructure aimed at increasing the infrastructure capacity and increasing alignment with Treasury Board Secretariat requirements and industry standards. The back-up process and related tools were upgraded and enhanced, a new Storage Area Network was acquired to prepare for the implementation of the Court’s EDRMS solution, upgrades to the Active Directory were planned, and Business Continuity and Resumption Plans were fully reviewed and updated. Many IT security upgrades were implemented in line with the Management of Information Technology Security Standard (MITS) and the availability and reliability of IT systems remained high. The EDRMS allows the initiation of an interface design between the new product and the existing Case Management System using a new development framework (.Net) and which corresponded to the development of metadata standards, the refinement of the Office of the Registrar’s information classification plan and retention and disposition schedules, and the revamping of some operational processes to maximize efficiencies in an electronic context. The introduction of a significant amount of new technologies and products brought a need for revamping the existing IM/IT processes, which were reviewed and adjusted in line with the Information Technology Information Library Standards and best practices. Finally, the introduction of digital audio visual technology in the courtroom provided the Office of the Registrar with an opportunity to achieve a greater degree of integration between its information technology infrastructure and audio visual products, which will facilitate management and sustainability.

A key focus for building capacity was the ongoing upgrade to the Library Management System to enable the Court and the staff of the Office of the Registrar to filter and search through the hybrid print and electronic legal collections in the Library. A new online catalogue was launched in both intranet and internet versions (for access by the general public) in May 2006, and in December 2006 and January 2007, open URL software and a federated search engine were integrated to enable seamless searching across multiple formats.

c. Processing capacity: The Office of the Registrar continued to focus on service improvement and performance measurement during 2006/07. To improve efficiency and enhance functionality, particularly with respect to the flow of electronic records the Office of the Registrar embarked in the winter of 2006/07 on a major court modernization program, consolidating the courtroom systems AV/IT Modernization Project, the E-filing Project and the Word Processing Upgrade Project. In the Library, as a result of the implementation of the new Library Management System, a number of products previously distributed in print format, have been re-engineered to allow for electronic distribution to Members of the Court and staff of the Office of the Registrar. Enhanced Tables of contents are added to records to improve the search experience, and journal contents services are delivered in electronic format and linked to full-text online.

d. Facilities: Progress towards completion of the two projects identified in the 2006-07 RPP was mixed. Effective Project Approval and funding for the Courtroom Audio Visual and Information Technology Project were received. The requirements and design phase of the project was completed, followed by a successful “proof of concept” or pilot to ensure the feasibility of the design. By the end of the year, the acquisition of the equipment, furniture and software required was well underway. The project to redesign and refit the East Entrance was underway in November 2006 when service problems were encountered, ultimately forcing a suspension of work in January 2007. Construction resumed in the new year with a new contractor, and is expected to be completed by fall 2007.

E. Link to Government of Canada Outcome Areas

The Supreme Court of Canada is at the apex of the judiciary branch of the Canadian government, and a fundamental institution in the Canadian democracy. It is aligned with the Government Affairs outcome area as found in the Whole of Government Framework, as it supports all other outcome areas.