Since their separation, Brad and Angelina have faced a media blitz that has likely affected the couple's family. According to TMZ, Brad is claiming that Angelina is a "...bad parent for putting their family drama on blast for public consumption." In response, Brad filed legal documents requesting an order to seal the couples' file.
Brad asserts that Angelina should know better than to publicly air the couple's grievances. Brad maintains that since the couple are famous, it is inevitable that the children will be damaged in some capacity when Angelia "airs their dirty laundry" in public. Brad alleges that Angelina has humiliated and embarrassed the children and this could endanger them.
To prevent Angelina from further affecting the couple's family, Brad sought an emergency order sealing their case. However, the court refused to grant the order, thus Brad filed a formal motion to seal the case.
In Ontario, if parties want confidentiality and to prevent public access to their court file, they generally consider some method of alternative dispute resolution. However, if the parties are involved in litigation, sealing orders are rarely granted and typically only in narrow circumstances.
The primary concern surrounding sealing orders is the balance between open court on the one hand, and the parties' right to confidentiality on the other. Nevertheless, in M (G) v M (R), 2015 CarswellOnt 9371, Justice Gray of the Superior Court of Justice stated as follows:
It has been said many times that the open court principle is of fundamental importance in a democracy. Justice ought not to be administered behind closed doors. Open courts are important so that the public can be satisfied that justice is being administered properly.
However, the open court principle is subject to exceptions. Where the interest in privacy outweighs the public’s right to know, orders can be made to restrict the public’s right to know. However, such orders should be carefully tailored, and limited to what is actually necessary to protect legitimate rights of privacy.
Privacy interests are particularly compelling when it comes to the interests of children. In certain defined circumstances, this has achieved legislative recognition.
In the aforementioned case, Justice Gray refused to grant a sealing order, mainly because the parties' previous judgment had already identified the issues that the press and the public might be concerned about. However, Justice Gray concluded that there is a clear indication that even in a compelling case, a sealing order is unlikely to be made. Rather, Justice Gray places the onus on counsel to consider the implications well in advance of commencing public litigation. Based on Justice Gray's findings, Brad's motion to seal the case will likely be unsuccessful.
However, it is possible that a Judge could remove the parties names from the case and use random initials in order to maintain the privacy of the children. This is rarely done in Ontario but in my opinion should be used in all cases in order to prevent confidential information about people’s lives being made available to the public.