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Source: Representing Yourself In Court (CAN): How to Win Your Case on Your Own (2015). p. 187 Top.

     The judge (or jury) has made a decision, which was either:

  1. From the bench. This is an oral decision. Once the judge makes an order orally, that is the law. It is effective immediately (un- less the terms of the order or Court Rules specify otherwise). There will also be a written copy of the judge's order.

  2. In writing. Usually, you will have received a copy in the mail. This is usually effective when it is "entered" into the case docket.

  1. Even if the judge didn't write, the stenographer would transcribe the judge's speech. So the judge's oral decision is still written by someone. A stenographer's transcription can differ from the judge's speech: but this wariness of stenographers appears unreasonable: why trust stenographers at all?

  2. If judges utter, before later writing, their decision, then the decision is both oral and written. But shouldn't the decision still be considered written because the written decision would prevail, especially if the trial court's audio isn't recorded?

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Where I practice, the main difference is that the way that the appeal deadline is calculated is different in the case of an oral order (which doesn't start the appeal deadline running until the judge enters some order in writing where I practice) and a written order (for which the appeal deadline starts to run when it is delivered to the parties or the attorneys').

Of course, different courts can have different rules on this point and possibly even different courts within Canada could apply this rule differently.

Also, if there is an appeal, you would need a transcript, at a minimum, of the oral order, to appeal it, which you would not always need in the case of a written order where the alleged ground for appeal appeared on the face of the order.

The difference, in short, isn't a big difference, but could have some practical implications.

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