Disclosure of Private Information to Parties Unconnected to Litigation Protected Under Privacy Act

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The BC Court of Appeal contemplated whether delivery of personal information to persons not party to litigation gives rise to a cause of action under the Privacy Act in Duncan v Lessing, 2018 BCCA 9. Mr. Duncan claimed that the defendant lawyer violated his privacy when a notice of application and supporting affidavit, which included Mr. Duncan’s personal tax returns and a prenuptial agreement, were mistakenly sent out to companies unconnected to the litigation.

Mr. Justice Hunter explained that privacy interests are subject to limits, stating:

“The operative principle is that the public interest in getting at the truth outweighs the parties’ privacy interests, but that these interests are entitled to such protection as can be afforded them without interfering with the efficient conduct of civil litigation.”

The judge ultimately dismissed the appeal. He found that the Privacy Act incorporates the absolute privilege that applies in defamation law by creating a statutory exception for acts taken in a judicial proceeding. The defendant lawyer was acting in the course of his duties as a part of judicial proceedings, making the statutory exception in the Privacy Act applicable.

This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the view of the CCLA or PBSC.