Pub Bans and Sealing Orders

R. v. Wilks 2013 CM 4017

A military judge was asked to rule on an application by the CBC to vary a publication ban regarding the identity of a complainant in a sexual assault case. The judge had initially granted the publication ban request pursuant to section 179 of the National Defence Act and section 486.4 of the Criminal Code. The complainant and the Director of Military Prosecutions now both agreed to the CBC request. The complainant wished to tell her story to the CBC and have it broadcast. She no longer wished to conceal her identity. Defence counsel objected to the request and argued that the application must be dismissed because the military judge had no jurisdiction to hear and decide the application. The military judge concluded that:

…a court martial has a common law jurisdiction to impose a publication ban…(and) retains its common law power to reconsider any order made during the trial relating to the conduct of a trial and that the court martial also retains its common law power to vary or revoke such order if the circumstances that were present at the time the order was made have materially changed.”