In a brief judgment, Ball J of the BC Supreme Court has stated
that there is no tort of invasion of privacy under the law of
British Columbia: Demcak v Vo, 2013 BCSC 899. The
judge noted that a breach of privacy is actionable under BC's
Privacy Act, but concluded that the legislation did not offer a
remedy on the facts before him.
The plaintiffs were former sub-tenants of a residential property
in the City of Richmond. A complaint was made about the use of that
property to Richmond which then inspected the property. Written
notice of the impending inspection had been given by the owner to
both the head-tenant and the sub-tenants. Following the inspection,
Richmond ordered that recreational vehicles owned by the
sub-tenants be removed from the property. They failed to do so.
In order to comply with the City's order, the head-tenant
gave the sub-tenants a notice to end tenancy. The sub-tenants and
the Defendant Dinh, the landlord, were the only parties present at
a hearing before the Residential Tenancy Branch regarding the
dispute. The hearing officer concluded that the order to end the
tenancy was lawful and valid, and that the landlord was entitled to
an order for quiet possession. The hearing officer ordered the
plaintiffs to vacate the property.
The plaintiffs then applied for a review of that decision and
the original decision and order were confirmed.
The plaintiffs commenced the action which was the subject of
this judgment. The claim included, in part, an allegation that the
inspections of the property, including both the residence and the
vehicles were conducted in breach of the plaintiffs' privacy.
The Courts stated as follows on a motion for summary judgment:
"On the facts of the case now before me, the inspections of
the property, including the residences or vehicles thereon, were
authorized by law. These inspections are outside the scope of the
tort created by
s. 1 of the [BC] Privacy Act. As there is no common
law tort of privacy in BC, the claims contained in para. 13 of the
present notice of civil claim are without legal foundation and
cannot hope to succeed. The claims in that paragraph are
In light of the ruling of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Jones v Tsige, 2012 ONCA 32, which
recognised a new tort of 'invasion upon seclusion' in that
province, it is unlikely that Demcak v Vo will remain the
last word on the subject on the west coast.
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.
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