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Class Action Q & A

Q: Why did lawyers for the BCCLA file this class action?

A: The proposed class action seeks damages on behalf of individuals whose private communications and metadata information have been collected by CSEC in a manner that violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. If the proposed class action is successful, it may provide a vehicle for Canadians to get a direct remedy for unconstitutional intrusions on their privacy and free expression rights.

Q: I know that the BCCLA filed a case against CSEC in October, 2013. Why did lawyers for the BCCLA file two cases?

A: The proposed class action, filed in Federal Court, is a companion case to the claim filed by the BCCLA in the B.C. Supreme Court in October of 2013.

Class actions can be complicated and time-consuming. Declaratory actions – like the one the BCCLA filed in October, 2013– are usually simpler and faster.

The BCCLA’s first goal is that the fundamental rights of Canadians are protected. The declaratory action BCCLA filed in October, 2013 asks the B.C. Supreme Court to declare the laws allowing CSEC to collect Canadians’ private communications and metadata to be unconstitutional and to strike those laws down.

If the laws are declared unconstitutional and are struck down, lawyers for the BCCLA will press forward with the proposed class action. Lawyers for the BCCLA will ask the Federal Court in the proposed class action to certify the class, apply the successful legal findings of the B.C. Supreme Court, and award damages to individuals whose rights may have been infringed by CSEC’s unconstitutional activities.

Q: I believe that my private communication and/or metadata information have been intercepted by the Communications Security Establishment of Canada. What should I do now?

A: The first step in this proposed class action will be for the court to consider whether the case should be certified as a class action. Our lawyers will seek a certification order from the court permitting them to pursue the action of behalf of all affected individuals. When and if that order is obtained, all individuals that fall within the class definition will automatically become part of the class action, unless they notify the lawyers that they would prefer not to be included. You do not need to take any steps to be part of the class.

Q: I am not resident in British Columbia. Can I participate in the class action?

A: The proposed class proceeding has been filed in the Federal Court. This Court has the ability to hear a class action affecting a “national” class of individuals. You do not need to be a resident of B.C. in order to be part of the class.

Q: If the proposed class action is certified and the court awards damages to the class, how will I be notified about compensation?

A: As previously mentioned, the first step in this proposed class action will be for the court to consider whether the case should be certified as a class action. If the court certifies the case, you may be able to participate in the proposed class action. Please check back on our website at www.bccla.org and we will post updates on the case as it develops, including information on how to submit a claim, if and when it becomes appropriate to do so. You may also wish to sign up on our email list at http://bccla.org (on the right hand side under “Sign Up”) to receive more information about this case as it proceeds, and about BCCLA’s other work.

Q: What is the status of the class action now?

A: The next major step in the action will be to seek “certification” of the action as a class action. Until the action is “certified” by the court, it will be referred to as a “proposed” class action. Check back on our website at www.bccla.org and we will post updates on the case as it develops.

Q: How long will this case take?

A: Class actions can take a very long time – years in fact – before they are resolved. We also expect our October 2013 lawsuit (mentioned above) to take a considerable amount of time before it is resolved.