As the Supreme Court opens its doors for business for the first time, we put forward our “wish list” of information that we would like to see from the Court.   We don’t expect everything to be available all at once but everything on our list is already available from one or more Supreme Courts round the world.  If it was all available it would greatly increase transparency and public understanding of the cases being argued in the Court.   It appears that some of this information will be available once the Court starts sitting.   In her recent speech – discussed on this blog – Chief Executive Jenny Rowe mentioned that when everything is working fully key information from the case management system will be publicly available via the website.  We will keep our readers up to date with what comes out.

The “wishlist” is as follows:

First, a “Judicial Sittings” list which includes full information about the appeal – the unique cite of the decision appealed against, a brief description of the subject matter of the appeal, the identity of the solicitors acting for the parties.  The Canadian Supreme Court has a list of all cases ready for hearing with their “docket” number.  A search against this number gives all the information about the case including the information mentioned in our next point.

Second, the statements of facts and issues and the parties written cases.  For example, the Canadian Supreme Court provides, as part of the case information for each case, the written cases (“the factums”) filed by each party, see for example, those in the pending case of Queen v Cunningham.  Similarly, the US Supreme Court directs users of its site to publicly available “merits briefs”.  These can also be found on the wonderful ScotUSblog.  “Heads of Argument” are available for pending cases in the South African Constitutional Court (by clicking on “forthcoming hearings” on the home page and following the links, see for example, heads of argument in Poverty Alleviation v President of the Republic)

Third, listing of applications for leave, interim orders and all the other activity of the Court.  Such a list could be found (with difficulty) for the House of Lords (in the “House of Lords business” section of their website).  The High Court of Australia, for example, publishes “Business Lists” dealing with all leave applications and other matters being dealt with by the Court.

Fourth, a transcript of the hearings.  If the High Court of Australia can do it, so can we.  See, for example. the transcript of the hearing on 27 and 28 August 2009 in the case of Arnold v Minister Administering the Water Management Act 2006.

Fifth, a webcast of the hearing.  The Canadian Supreme Court does it (see, here) and so does the Court of Human Rights, see, for example, the webcast of the recent hearing in Carson v United Kingdom

Sixth, as much notice as possible of the handing down of judgments.  The House of Lords used to give 6 days notice.  In contrast, the Supreme Court of Canada gives 2 to 3 weeks.

Seventh, a “media summary” of the Judgment when it comes out – shortly stating the issues and the decision.  This is common practice in Courts such as the High Court of Australia, the South African Constitutional Court (see the Recent Judgments list on their website).   These have been promised by the Supreme Court.

Eighth, regular “Court Bulletins”, telling us what the Court has done and will be doing, including lists of all the pending cases.  This is done in many countries such as  Canada  (weekly) and Australia (monthly)

Tags: , ,