Ontario Court of Appeal Recognizes Tort of Invasion of Privacy


On January 18, 2012, the Ontario Court of Appeal recognized a common law tort of “intrusion upon seclusion” in Ontario law in its decision in Jones v. Tsige. This decision has potentially significant implications, not just for individuals who may have invaded another person’s private affairs, but for any organization that collects and/or uses personal health, financial and other information. In particular, the decision may increase the reputational and other risks of unauthorized use of personal information and the incidence and risk of privacy class actions.

While the full implications of Jones v. Tsige will only be known as the decision is applied in the lower courts, proactive organizations should consider reviewing their collection and/or use of personal information and ensuring the enforcement of privacy and data protection policies.

I. Jones v. Tsige

Both Jones and Tsige were employees at different branches of the Bank of Montreal. Neither woman knew each other personally, but Tsige had formed a common-law relationship with Jones’ ex-husband. In 2009, Jones discovered that Tsige had accessed Jones’ banking records at least 174 times over the course of four years. The information accessed included transaction details, as well as personal information such as Jones’ date of birth, marital status, and address.

Jones sued Tsige, claiming $70,000 for invasion of privacy and breach of fiduciary duty. A motions judge dismissed Jones’ claims in March 2011 after concluding there was no cause of action for invasion of privacy in Ontario. Jones appealed. The Court of Appeal unanimously concluded that Ontario common law did recognize a cause of action for “intrusion upon seclusion” and reversed the lower court’s decision. The Court placed the case at the mid-point of the range of damages it identified as appropriate for this cause of action and awarded Jones damages of $10,000.

Please see full update below for more information.

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Published In: Business Torts Updates, Civil Remedies Updates, Finance & Banking Updates, Personal Injury Updates, Privacy Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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