Ont. C.A. Affirms Sealing Order to Protect Settlement Privilege Pending Agreement’s Approval

8 Sep

Today the Ontario Court of Appeal affirmed an order that sealed information about the amount of monies to be paid under a settlement agreement that was subject to court approval.

The order applied only to information about monies to be paid and not to the entire agreement. It also had a provision that allowed non-settling parties to obtain access to sealed information upon signing a confidentiality agreement to allow them to participate in the approval proceeding without encumbrance.

The Court held that the the order was based on the important interest in promoting settlement that is recognized by litigation privilege doctrine and that this interest was not outweighed by the interest in holding an open approval proceeding. It also held that the order was not over-broad.

Court approval of the proposed agreement was required under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act. In making its finding, the Court said, “we leave to another day the issue of whether the privilege always attaches to other settlements requiring court approval, for example, class action settlements or infant settlements, where different values and considerations may apply.”

Hollinger Inc. (Re), 2011 ONCA 579.

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