Information Bulletin

On May 27, 2009, the Council of Federal Tribunal Chairs (CFTC) adopted the following statement on the use of personal information in decisions of administrative tribunals and the posting of decisions on the websites of administrative tribunals.

Statement on the use of personal information in decisions and posting of decisions on websites

Background:

The CFTC is a community of Chairs of Federal Administrative Tribunals. Some of these tribunals operate in accordance with the open court principle. Others have enabling legislation specifying that their proceedings are in the public interest.

On October 29, 2008, the CFTC struck a working group on the use of personal information in decisions of administrative tribunals and the posting of decisions on the websites of administrative tribunals. On January 19, 2009, the working group presented its report to the CFTC members. Following further discussions and meetings, the working group developed a position statement on the issue. This statement was adopted by the CFTC on May 27, 2009.

The CFTC members would like to extend their thanks to the working group for carrying out their mandate in a thorough and timely manner:

  • Serge-Marc Brazeau
    (working group leader)
    Senior Counsel, Public Service Labour Relations Board
  • Claude Jacques
    General Counsel, Canadian Transportation Agency
  • Julianne C. Dunbar
    General Counsel, Military Police Complaints
  • Rachel Dugas
    Legal Counsel, Public Service Staffing Tribunal
  • Greg Miller
    Counsel, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal

The Council considers it important to encourage, to the extent possible, a consistent approach to the use of personal information by administrative tribunals in their decisions and posting of decisions on websites for those administrative tribunals that operate in accordance with the open court principle or that have enabling legislation specifying that their proceedings are in the public interest and that post full texts of their written decisions on their website.

The Council believes that any policy in this regard should endeavour:

  • to strike a balance between the open court principle and the privacy concerns of individuals availing themselves of their rights before administrative tribunals;
  • to provide its members with a set of principles for the protection of personal information in conformity with which each administrative tribunal may voluntarily adopt individual measures adapted to its specific needs;
  • to avoid placing administrative tribunals in the position of being required to prepare multiple versions of their decisions; and
  • to assist administrative tribunals in determining the extent to which names and specific personal information should be included in their reasons for decisions.

The Council recognizes that the Protocol for the Use of Personal Information in Judgments approved by the Canadian Judicial Council in May 2005 (the CJC Protocol) provides helpful guidance in assessing what personal information is relevant and necessary to support the reasons for a decision and clearly recognizes the benefits of allowing decision makers to make that assessment.

The Council further recognizes that the "web robot exclusion protocol", which is respected by commonly used Internet search engines to restrict the global indexing of specifically designated documents posted on websites, is an acceptable technical means for providing fair protection to personal information contained in administrative tribunals' decisions posted on their websites.

While respecting the legitimate needs of administrative tribunals to develop practices that best address the specific concerns of the proceedings they administer, the Council encourages each of its member organizations that operates in accordance with the open court principle or that has enabling legislation specifying that its proceedings are in the public interest, and that posts full texts of its written decisions on its website, to consider implementing, when appropriate, all or some of the following:

  • referring its website, by hyperlink, to this statement on the Council's website and to the CJC Protocol posted on the Canadian Judicial Council's website;
  • adopting the CJC Protocol;
  • making the CJC Protocol part of any training program offered to its decision makers;
  • applying the "web robot exclusion protocol" to all full-text decisions containing personal information posted on its website;
  • giving notice to individuals availing themselves of their rights before it (e.g. on its website, in its administrative letters opening case files and on the forms that parties must complete to initiate proceedings) that it posts its decisions in full on its website.

Read the statement

Modified Date