In contrast, in camera describes court proceedings where the public and press are not allowed to observe the procedure or process.
The virtues of openness were discussed by the Supreme Court of Canada in A.G. Nova Scotia v. MacIntyre which quoted eighteenth-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham:
As noted by the Supreme Court of Canada in Vancouver Sun (Re), the open court principle enhances the public's confidence in the justice system:
The open court principle is linked to the freedom of expression and freedom of the press which include the right of the public to receive information. The press plays a vital role as the conduit through which the public receives information regarding the operation of public institutions.
Section 135(1) of the Courts of Justice Act (Ontario) states the general principle that "all court hearings shall be open to the public".
Subsection 486(1) of the Criminal Code states: "Any proceedings against an accused shall be held in open court, but where the presiding judge, provincial court judge or justice, as the case may be, is of the opinion that it is in the interest of public morals, the maintenance of order or the proper administration of justice to exclude all or any members of the public from the court room for all or part of the proceedings, he may so order."
In 2004, the Vancouver Sun newspaper successfully argued that certain court proceedings in relation to the Air India terrorist attack should be open to the public. Section 83.28 of the Criminal Code allows the exclusion of the public and media from certain court proceedings in relation to terrorism offences.
In the United States, the term "in open court" means the appearance by a party or their attorney in a public court session such as during a trial.
The open court principle has long been recognized as a cornerstone of the common law. As noted in its 1913 decision in Scott v. Scott, the House of Lords noted the right of public access to the courts is "one of principle ... turning, not on convenience, but on necessity". Viscount Haldane L.C., noted that "Justice is not a cloistered virtue". 
In the 1936 decision of Ambard v. Attorney-General for Trinidad and Tobago, Lord Atkin noted "Publicity is the very soul of justice. It is the keenest spur to exertion, and the surest of all guards against improbity."