Sealing Orders for Ottawa Senators\' Team and Arena Sale Documents Granted

In January 2003, the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club Corp. filed for CCAA protection. Palladium Corp., the owner of the Senators’ home arena, the Corel Centre, was placed into receivership in May of that year. The two were sold to the Capital Sports Group that summer. One of the main conditions of the deal was that the two purchase agreements (one for each of the team and the arena) would be kept confidential in so far as permissible by law in order to protect certain confidential and/or commercially sensitive information. To that end, sealing orders were sought and obtained in each of two proceedings, initially temporary in nature, but with latitude to have them extended indefinitely.

The CBC and the Ottawa Citizen challenged the sealing orders. This first led to the development of redacted forms of agreement by the purchasers and vendors that could be disclosed to the public and then led to fully contested motions (in each proceeding) in the fall over whether the sealing orders should be made permanent. Justice James Chadwick of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice rejected the media objections and made the sealing orders permanent.

In response, the Ottawa Citizen brought motions (in each proceeding) to seek leave to appeal the permanent sealing orders. The Ottawa Citizen abandoned the appeal of the arena sealing order prior to hearing. The leave motion on the team side was heard in February 2004 and was dismissed with reasons by Justice David McWilliam. As a result, the sale agreements will remain permanently sealed.

The Capital Sports Group was represented by Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, with a team that included Chris Besant, Bill Burden, Frank Spizzirri, Marco Filice, Joe Bellissimo and Erin Finlay.

CBC was represented by in-house counsel Edith Cody-Rice. The Ottawa Citizen was represented by Scott Little and Maureen Murphy of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP in Ottawa.