This case concerned privacy rights in civil lawsuits, and the rules surrounding disclosure of documents held by third parties.  

LEAF, in partnership with the British Columbia Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD), intervened before the British Columbia Court of Appeal.  

Facts 

Each of these cases concerned a civil lawsuit seeking damages for injuries stemming from a motor vehicle accident. In each case, one of the parties requested that a judge order a third party, not involved in the lawsuit, to provide documents that it had in its possession. The dispute concerned whether the documents should be provided directly to the requesting party, or whether they should first be provided to the opposing party so that they could review the documents.  

Arguments 

LEAF and BCCPD argued that the appropriate procedure for third party record requests required the third party to provide the documents to the opposing party, and not the requesting party. The opposing party could then review the documents and withhold any documents that were privileged or not relevant.  

LEAF and BCCPD highlighted that the disclosure of private documents was particularly problematic for women and individuals with disabilities. Their lives were more heavily documented by third parties. Any records were subject to the personal biases and values of the record-keeper, and to inaccuracies. Failure to protect privacy could deter individuals from seeking therapy or justice. And the exposure of personal information harmed the personal dignity of those whose information was exposed. 

Outcome 

The British Columbia Court of Appeal held that the appeal was moot and did not make a decision on the merits of the case. This was because the documents had already been disclosed to the parties which had requested them. 

LEAF is grateful to Susan Griffin, counsel in this case.  

Download the factum here

Read the British Columbia Court of Appeal’s decision here

Our records are imperfect, but we are doing our best to update them – if you were involved with LEAF on this case but your name is not reflected here, please email us at [email protected].