Privacy Laws in Canada
This article provides an overview of private investigator surveillance and privacy laws in Canada.
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 of time 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 any 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 the taking of the video and its disclosure contravened the Personal Information and Protection of Electronics Act [PIPEDA]. And 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 collection, use, and disclosure of the videotape would not contravene the PIPEDA because private investigators are acting 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
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
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