Canada: BC vs Ontario: BC Supreme Court Confirms No Common Law Tort For Invasion Of Privacy

The Supreme Court of British Columbia recently confirmed that there is no common law tort of invasion of privacy in that province. This is in contrast to an earlier decision from the Ontario Court of Appeal which accepted such a cause of action.

Background

In January, 2012, the Ontario Court of Appeal released Jones v Tsige,1 in which it held that there is a tort of invasion of privacy in Ontario. Sharpe JA, writing for the court, canvassed jurisprudence from the US and Commonwealth countries and determined that, to reflect the technological changes of modern times, there must be a tort of invasion of privacy or "intrusion upon seclusion."2 Sharpe JA adopted the elements of the cause of action from The American Law Institute's Restatement (Second) of Torts (2010):

  1. the defendant's conduct must be intentional or reckless;
  2. the defendant must have invaded, without lawful justification, the plaintiff's private affairs or concerns; and
  3. a reasonable person would regard the invasion as highly offensive causing distress, humiliation or anguish.3

Notably, proof of damage is not a necessary element of this intentional tort.4

[For more on the Ontario decision, see this article.]

In the more recent British Columbia case of Demcak v Vo,5 the plaintiff was the sub-tenant of a property and the defendants were the head-tenant, a management company acting as agent of the property owner, and the City of Richmond. The City had received a complaint about the use of the property and, after written notice, representatives of the City and the management company inspected the property. In particular, the plaintiff alleged that the City and the management company forced themselves into and inspected some recreational vehicles that were the subject of the complaint.6

The Decision in Demcak v Vo

In reasons dated May 22, 2013, the Supreme Court of British Columbia held that "No common law tort of invasion or breach of privacy exists in British Columbia."7 The court cited two decisions for this proposition: Hung v Gardiner8 and Bracken v Vancouver Police Board.9 In Hung v Gardiner, the Supreme Court of British Columbia held that the existing case law was insufficient to stand for the proposition that there is a generally recognized common law tort of invasion of privacy.10 In Bracken v Vancouver Police Board, the Supreme Court of British Columbia cited Hung v Gardiner and did not engage in any further analysis.11

It is worth noting that the plaintiff in Demcak v Vo was a self-represented litigant whose two previous statements of claim connected to this matter had been struck out by Masters.12 The plaintiff did not specifically argue invasion of privacy, the court's decision was very short, and one can be fairly certain that legal doctrine was not robustly argued at the hearing.

Significance

The decision in British Columbia appears to stand in stark contrast with the decision from Ontario. However, it should be noted that British Columbia is one of four provinces that have a statutory tort for invasion of privacy which is substantially similar to the Ontario common law tort13 (the other three provinces being Saskatchewan,14 Manitoba15 and Newfoundland and Labrador16). The court in Demcak v Vo considered the statutory tort and concluded that it did not apply since the defendants were lawfully entitled to enter the plaintiff's residence.17 It is possible that the existence of a statutory cause of action in British Columbia precluded the court from seriously considering the common law tort.

It is interesting to note that in a 2011 decision, the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench rejected the common law tort of invasion of privacy even though there is no statutory equivalent in Alberta; rather, the court held that if any damages could be awarded for invasion of privacy, the only recourse is under the Personal Information Protection Act18after the Privacy Commissioner finds that there was a breach of privacy.19

As Sharpe JA noted, "The question of whether the common law should recognize a cause of action in tort for invasion of privacy has been debated for the past one hundred and twenty years."20 The debate in Canada is clearly far from over, and it will be interesting to see whether other jurisdictions adopt a common law cause of action (as in Ontario), enact a statutory cause of action (as in BC), or both.

* Ryan MacIssac is an Articling Student at McCarthy Tétrault.

Footnotes

1.Jones v Tsige, 2012 ONCA 32.

2.Ibid at para 65.

3.Ibid at para 71.

4.Ibid at para 74.

5.Demcak v Vo, 2013 BCSC 899.

6.Ibid at para 7.

7.Ibid at para 8.

8.Hung v Gardiner, 2002 BCSC 1234 at para. 110 ,aff'd on other grounds 2003 BCCA 257.

9.Bracken v Vancouver Police Board, 2006 BCSC 189.

10.Hung v Gardiner, supra at para 110.

11.Bracken v Vancouver Police Board, supra at para 28.

12.Demcak v Vo, supra at para 4.

13.Privacy Act, RSBC 1996, c 373, s 1.

14.The Privacy Act, RSS 1978, c P-24, s 2.

15.The Privacy Act, CCSM c P125, s 2.

16.Privacy Act, RSNL 1990, c P-22, s 2.

17.Demcak v Vo, supra at paras 9-12.

18.Personal Information Protection Act, SA 2003, c P-6.5, s 60.

19.Martin v General Teamsters, Local Union No 362, 2011 ABQB 412 at paras 43-48.

20.Jones v Tsige, supra at para 15.

To view original article, please click here

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
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).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions