You can now be sued for invasion of privacy in Ontario

The Ontario Court of Appeal just released its decision in Jones v Tsige saying that there is a tort of invasion of privacy in Ontario.  Until this decision, it was generally felt that this right did not exist in Ontario.  The court also refers to the tort as intrusion upon seclusion.

The gist of the case is that a bank employee looked up banking information on someone she knew (another bank employee who was in a common-law relationship with the victim’s former husband) - at least 174 times over a 4 year period.  That was clearly contrary to bank policy and privacy legislation, and she was disciplined for it by the bank when it came to light.

The issue in this case was whether the victim could sue for damages for it.  The Court of Appeal decided she could, and awarded $10,000 in damages.

To be actionable:

  • the defendant’s conduct must be intentional, including recklessness;
  • the defendant must have invaded, without lawful justification, the plaintiff’s private affairs or concerns;
  • a reasonable person would regard the invasion as highly offensive causing distress, humiliation or anguish.

It does not apply to intrusions into every private or personal matter. The decision says that it is only intrusions into matters such as:

  • financial or health records
  • sexual practices and orientation
  • employment
  • diary or private correspondence

For a more detailed analysis, see these posts by Omar Ha-Redeye on Slaw and David Fraser

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