The Right to Sue for Invasion of Privacy under the Privacy Act – in BC Only
In British Columbia, an individual has a right to sue for invasion of privacy, and the individual is not required to prove that they suffered harm as a result of the invasion of privacy. This right is based on a law called the Privacy Act, which makes it a tort to invade another person’s privacy.
If You Sue, What is the Job of the Judge?
The judge must determine whether the defendant invaded your privacy intentionally and without any legal basis for the privacy invasion.
In making this determination, the judge is required to take into account the circumstances of the case, the relationships among the parties and other people’s rights and interests.
There are limits placed on this right to sue. The judge is required to rule that there was no privacy invasion if:
- any person who was entitled to consent to the act you say invaded your privacy did consent;
- the act or conduct was incidental to another person’s exercise of his or her legal rights to defend themselves or their property;
- the act or conduct was authorized or required by or under a law;
- the act or conduct was an act of a peace officer in the course of his or her duties;
- the defendant is a journalistic publication, and the matter is of public interest or was fair comment on a matter of public interest. These journalistic protections do not extend to the way the information was obtained if the information was obtained through a violation of privacy. That is, the journalist’s source may not be protected by the journalistic exception;
- the law relating to defamation applies.
You may also sue if your name or image is used without your permission for advertising or promotional purposes, but you must meet certain requirements.
Commencing a Lawsuit for Negligence
If a privacy breach involving your personal information results in a financial loss or other kind of harm to you, you could have a right to sue the organization in civil court for negligence.
What Can You Win? What Happens if You Lose?
There is a chance that you could win money as damages for invasion of privacy or for negligent breach of privacy. However, a lawsuit is very expensive, complicated and time-consuming activity. If you lose you are required to pay a large part of the costs of the winner. It is not recommended that anyone go to court without getting help from a lawyer.
These organizations might help you find a lawyer: