Private Investigator Surveillance and Privacy Laws in Canada


Privacy Laws in Canada

This article overviews Canada’s private investigator surveillance and privacy laws.

Court Ruling: Ferenczy vs. MCI Medical Clinics

The legal court case of Ferenczy vs. MCI Medical Clinics, a decision rendered in the Ontario Superior Court by Justice Dawson, is good for private investigators in Canada. This legal case involves a patient named D. Ferenczy. She sued her doctor for professional negligence in diagnosing and treating a cyst on the inner part of her left wrist. The medical procedure was carried out on February 17, 1999.

The plaintiff, D. Ferenczy, claimed that due to the failed medical procedure, she could not hold small items for an extended period with her left hand. In addition, she claimed that she could not work and subsequently suffered a loss of income.

The defendant, the doctor, disputed her claim. The Canadian Medical Protective Association retained a private investigator to help dispute the credibility of the plaintiff’s evidence. This association provides defense assistance to physicians sued for medical malpractice claims.

The private investigator conducted surveillance on Ms. Ferenczy and collected an eight-minute video with surveillance footage of Ms. Ferenczy holding a coffee cup at a coffee shop. The video footage clearly shows that she was holding the coffee cup without visible signs of physical impairment. This investigation was carried out without Ms. Ferenczy’s consent.

Whether or not the videotape could be admitted as evidence against Ms. Ferenczy as the Counsel for Ms. Denise Ferenczy argued that taking the video and its disclosure contravened the Personal Information and Protection of Electronics Act [PIPEDA]. Therefore, submitted, the evidence rendered is inadmissible.

Court Ruling about the Privacy Laws in Canada

The court ruled that the PIPEDA applies to personal information collected and disclosed for “commercial purposes.” And that defending a liability claim is not considered a commercial activity but that the information collected is used to defend the doctor in a civil lawsuit. The court also ruled that the videotape’s collection, use, and disclosure would not contravene the PIPEDA because private investigators act as agents for their clients.

Furthermore, Ms. Ferenczy implicitly consented to collect the videotape evidence when she filed an action against the defendant. Justice Dawson further ruled that the videotape collection is related to the investigation of a claim and, therefore, ruled the videotape evidence tendered at trial be admissible.

About the Author

Duncan Investigations Copyright 2005.05.05
Author Name: Janie Duncan
Email Address:

Janie Duncan is a licensed private investigator and founder of Duncan Investigations in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She manages this licensed and bonded private investigation agency that has served clients throughout Canada.

Questions and Comments

If you have any questions about the privacy laws in Canada, please post a message below. If you’d like to learn more about surveillance, see our private investigator surveillance page.


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