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Privacy and Litigation


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This is an hour and a half presentation to Canadian lawyers on the privacy issues in civil litigation.

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Privacy and Litigation

  1. 1. CBA Live Online PD - Privacy Issues in Civil Litigation Tuesday, February 9 th , 2010 Presented by the CBA National Privacy and Access Law  and the Civil Litigation Sections Alex Cameron Associate Fasken Martineau LLP Dan Michaluk Partner Hicks Morley
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Overview </li></ul><ul><li>Privacy law in Canada Pre-litigation </li></ul><ul><li>Discovery </li></ul><ul><li>Trial </li></ul><ul><li>Watch for polls </li></ul><ul><li>Q&A </li></ul>2
  3. 3. Privacy law in Canada <ul><li>PIPEDA </li></ul><ul><li>BC, Alberta, Quebec </li></ul><ul><li>Health information privacy laws </li></ul><ul><li>Common law tort </li></ul><ul><li>Statutory privacy torts </li></ul>4
  4. 4. Pre-litigation <ul><li>Access to employee stored communications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>First step is to determine if there are real rights and obligations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Risk of Criminal Code liability limited </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Application of privacy legislation matters… but note Johnson v. Bell Canada </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unionized workplaces are different </li></ul></ul>6
  5. 5. Pre-litigation <ul><li>Access to employee stored communications </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most jurisprudence is by labour arbitrators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Very strong property based views expressed… no expectation of privacy, no balancing of interests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This may be changing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Watch Quon in the USSC </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Watch Cole at the Ont. C.A. </li></ul></ul>8
  6. 6. Pre-litigation <ul><li>Regulation of surveillance – jurisdiction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are lawyers regulated because they engage in commercial activity? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is the affect of agency on PIPEDA application? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commissioner has asserted jurisdiction ( Case Summary 2006-340 ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Being challenged in New Brunswick – State Farm </li></ul></ul>9
  7. 7. Pre-litigation <ul><li>OPC Guidance on Covert Video Surveillance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Purpose must be reasonable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider scope of implied consent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limit collection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid third parties and blur third parties’ faces, license plates and addresses </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Engage private investigators appropriately </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What about other information gathering? </li></ul></ul>10
  8. 8. Pre-litigation <ul><li>Consider potential common law tort </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Somwar v. McDonald’s </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shred-Tech Corp. v. Viveen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>plaintiff’s investigator obtained the defendants’ Bell telephone records </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>pleading amended to add privacy tort claim </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>relief from deemed undertaking to file complaint against the investigator under PIPEDA and PISGA </li></ul></ul></ul>11
  9. 9. Pre-litigation <ul><li>Freedom of information/access to information laws </li></ul><ul><ul><li>P artial head start on discovery or help decide if litigation should be commenced </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Private sector laws </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Requests for access to personal information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Requests to opposing party, non-parties, and counsel </li></ul></ul>13
  10. 10. Pre-litigation <ul><li>Parties must respond to access requests unless an exemption applies, e.g: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Confidential business information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Third party personal information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Privileged information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Information collected for investigation into breach of agreement or contravention of law </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Respond within 30 days at minimal or no cost </li></ul><ul><li>How can privilege be protected? </li></ul>14
  11. 11. Discovery <ul><ul><li>Working with others to extract, process and review </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Confirm consent is not required to outsource </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Engage in due diligence vendor selection </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enter into a vendor contract that limits the vendor’s use, disclosure, storage and retention </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enter into a vendor contract that ensures the vendor employs reasonable safeguarding measures </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Administer the contract in a manner that ensures the vendor employs reasonable safeguarding measures </li></ul></ul></ul>15
  12. 12. Discovery <ul><li>Disclosing party obligations under legislation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will rarely have express or implicit authorization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>So need to fit within an exception </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Watch for limitations when dealing with production outside of jurisdiction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Watch for the notification requirements </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Discovery <ul><li>Disclosing party obligations under legislation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Protection of “personal information” in records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exceptions apply based on whether information (not records) producible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Routine review new norm? (DOB, SIN, credit card) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not all personal information is contained in structured dBase fields… not always discrete…which can cause costs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do non-parties get standing at the motion? ( Angel Acres ) </li></ul></ul>16
  14. 14. Discovery <ul><li>Disclosing party obligations under legislation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The deemed/implied undertaking is traditionally about control and not security </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do you seek a protective agreement or order? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Big questions about who is accountable under privacy legislation </li></ul></ul>17
  15. 15. Discovery <ul><li>M. (A) v. Ryan (SCC, 1997) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sexual assault claim… privileged claimed over psychiatric treatment records </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We start with a presumption that relevant evidence is producible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Case-by-case ( Wigmore ) privilege may apply </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But based in concern for an over-riding public interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protective terms “often appropriate” where a privacy interest is “compelling” </li></ul></ul>18
  16. 16. Discovery <ul><li>Social media: control and privacy issues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is in the user’s control vs. the SM site’s control? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Check the applicable terms of use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expectations of privacy and public vs. private pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need more than a bald assertion that a private page must be preserved </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What inferences can be drawn about what is contained on private pages? </li></ul></ul>19
  17. 17. Discovery <ul><li>Non-party production </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ISPs, banks and others are aware of their privacy obligations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Normal course: contact the non-party and then obtain a court order </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exceptional situations: fraud, emergencies and life threatening situations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider protective orders to protect privacy </li></ul></ul>20
  18. 18. Trial <ul><li>Open courts and the internet </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Practical obscurity” concept – Reporters Committee (USSC, 1989) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Relevant to publication bans, sealing orders and orders for in camera proceedings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Internet tends to polarize the analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Argument #1 –It’s on the internet so you have no more privacy claim </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Argument #2 –We can’t let it out there because it will be highly findable </li></ul></ul>21
  19. 19. Trial <ul><li>Admissibility </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is there a privacy violation? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>‘ personal purpose’ vs. commercial activity </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>implied consent (OPC surveillance guidelines confirm) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What consequences follow? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>evidence inadmissible? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>tort claim and privacy complaint </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ferenczy v. MCI Medical Clinics </li></ul></ul></ul>23
  20. 20. Summary <ul><li>Overview </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Privacy law in Canada </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-litigation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discovery </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Trial </li></ul></ul>24
  21. 21. Questions? 25 Alex Cameron [email_address] twitter @a_cameron Daniel Michaluk [email_address] twitter @ danmichaluk
  22. 22. Upcoming CBA Online PD Events <ul><li>Technology in the Courtroom </li></ul><ul><li>February 23, 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Practicing Law 140 Characters at a Time: Twitter for Lawyers </li></ul><ul><li>March 9, 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Everything Old is New Again: Troubleshooting in a Wills and Estates Practice </li></ul><ul><li>April 21, 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>HST –Are you Ready? </li></ul><ul><li>April 29, 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>To register and find out more, please visit </li></ul>26
  23. 23. <ul><li>Experience the CBA ADVANTAGE: </li></ul><ul><li>Visit our new Professional Development website! </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>27