Reading Time: < 1 minute

In 2004, the Competition Bureau of Canada began an investigation into allegations of conspiracy to fix gasoline pump prices in Quebec. In the course of that investigation, the Bureau obtained judicial authority to intercept the communications of the alleged perpetrators. The Bureau intercepted and recorded over 220,000 private communications.

At the conclusion of the investigation, charges were laid against a number of companies and individuals. Parallel to those proceedings, a class action was instituted seeking damages for anti-competitive practices. The lawyers in the class action sought production of the private communications which had been gathered by the Competition Bureau.

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a lower court decision to release the communications in the context of the class action. However, only the lawyers and their experts have been permitted see them in order to protect the right to a fair trial of the parties still facing criminal charges. In doing so, the Court found that there was no factual or legal impediment to the disclosure of these communications.

In her dissent, Justice Abella observed that it is normally not legally permissible to obtain electronic surveillance for the purpose of gathering evidence in civil proceedings. In her view, the relevant legislation should not be interpreted in a way that overrides that general right to privacy and the specific right not to have confidential information disclosed. However, she stood alone in that view.

As a result, in appropriate circumstances electronic surveillance evidence gathered in the context of criminal or quasi-criminal proceedings can be compellable in parallel civil proceedings.  


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

Have Questions?

Enjoy this article?
Don’t forget to share.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Related Posts

Employment Law for Employees
Reading time: < 1 mins
Dana DuPerron on CTV News
As mandatory workplace vaccine policies begin to roll out, employers and employees have new questions about their legal rights and[...]
Employment Law for Employees
Reading time: < 1 mins
Malini Vijaykumar discusses mandatory workplace vaccine policies with CBC News
Click here to watch Malini Vijaykumar discuss mandatory workplace vaccination policies, and what they mean for workers in the context[...]
Employment Law for Employers
Nelligan News
Reading time: < 1 mins
Free webinar: Your Essential Guide to Work-from-Home and Vaccine Policies
For employers looking to implement work-from-home and vaccination policies,  Karine Dion and Jim Anstey will provide practical tools and guidance[...]