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Ontario Court of Appeal to consider tort of invasion of privacy in work context case

Jurisdiction: - Ontario

The Law Times ran a story ("Appeal court to consider privacy tort") today on the decision in Jones v. Tsige, 2011 ONSC 1475.

It is a case concerning two employees of the Bank of Montreal who worked at different branches. Over the course of four years, one employee (the "Defendant") accessed the personal banking information of the other employee, who was also a customer of the bank (the "Plaintiff"), on 176 occasions. 

Rather than filing a complaint with the federal privacy commissioner under PIPEDA, and ultimately going to the federal court for recourse, the Plaintiff sued the Defendant for the common law tort of invasion of privacy.

In its decision issued on March 23, 2011, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, citing precedent, ruled that there is no tort of invasion of privacy in Ontario.

The Ontario Court of Appeal will now have an opportunity to weigh in on this issue.

Comment

In British Columbia, the Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. SBC 1996, c. 373, creates a tort, actionable without proof of damage, for one person to violate the privacy of another.

See for example, Poirier v. Wal-Mart Canada Corp. 2006 BCSC 1138, in which the court awarded the plaintiff former employee  $15,000 in damages because defendant violated his privacy by misappropriating his identity and image for one of its advertisements.