On May 11, 2010, the Quebec Court of Appeal issued a definitive
judgment in support of privacy rights in the case of Standard Life
v. Tremblay. Upholding the trial decision, the Quebec Court of
Appeal maintained the damages awarded which included a punitive sum
of $100,000.00 to the plaintiff Tremblay against Standard Life
Insurance Company (Standard Life).
Tremblay was covered under a disability plan provided by
Standard Life and started to receive disability benefits following
a severe car accident. After being re-examined, the Standard Life
medical consultant reported his doubts about Mr. Tremblay's
disability and suggested surveillance of Mr. Tremblay. Standard
Life then proceeded to monitor Mr. Tremblay on 5 different
occasions over a period of about one year with each time averaging
During the second surveillance session, the investigators
mistakenly recorded Mr. Tremblay's brother and therefore
believed they were capturing Mr. Tremblay engaging in very active
tasks such as putting up Halloween decorations. Having been shown
the erroneous recording, Standard Life's neurosurgeon Dr.
Francoeur concluded that Mr. Tremblay was not in pain and that
Standard Life should cease paying the disability benefits.
At the heart of the Quebec Court of Appeal's decision is an
unmistakable endorsement of Mr. Tremblay's privacy rights.
Citing the first instance judge, the court agreed that Standard
Life committed a fault in ordering the surveillance without good
reason and that this amounted to a significant violation of his
Furthermore, the Court deferred to the trial judge's
assertion that Mr. Tremblay's dignity was ruined and his
reputation damaged. Following the definition of dignity set out in
Quebec (Public Curator) v. National
Union of Employees of the Hospital of St. Ferdinand
3 S.C.R. 211 which includes self-respect and
respect from others, the Court agreed that he was treated as a liar
due to Standard Life's unwarranted surveillance. The Court
concluded that Mr. Tremblay suffered prejudice because of Standard
Life's actions and that the information they obtained was in
fundamental breach of Mr. Tremblay's right to privacy.
Of great significance in this case is that the Court maintained
the punitive damages award given by the first instance judge. While
rarely awarded in Canada, punitive damages symbolize a Court's
desire to punish a litigant who has behaved particularly
egregiously. The fact that the Court endorsed this penalty against
Standard Life sends a very strong message that unjustified
intrusions into the private lives of citizens will not be
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).