nov. 20. 2014

Summary of Jones v Tsige

Jones v. Tsige, 2012 ONCA 32 (CanLII)

This was a case centering on personal privacy. Jones and Tsige both work at the same bank, and Tsige had formed a common-law relationship with Jones' ex-husband. An action for damages was brought when Jones found that Tsige had accessed her banking information 174 times over a period of four years. The issue in this case was whether Ontario Law recognizes a right to bring a civil action for damages for the invasion of personal privacy. The court ruled that there was, and the summary dismissal in trial court of Jones' action for damages was reversed.

The basis for this decision was primarily that Ontario already recognised the tort of misappropriation of personality, and so must remain open to the proposition that a tort against invasion of privacy might proceed. This was also the trend in case law. Furthermore, the Charter protects the right to privacy under s.8. Although the Charter cannot apply in a civil case, the Court noted that in developing common law, it makes sense to develop it in the direction which Charter values suggest. Legislation on privacy in Ontario supported an interpretation of policy-consideration towards protection of seclusion, and the Court deemed it appropriate to confirm the existence of a right of action for intrusion upon seclusion. Three key features were used in finding liability for the defendant's conduct: it was intentional; it was an invasion of private affairs without lawful justification; and a reasonable person would regard the conduct as highly offensive/a cause for distress. The court also ruled that such an action must be deliberate and significant (it was both), and gave examples of categories for what could be considered "highly offensive” to invade: financial or health records; sexual practices and orientation; employment; and diary or private correspondence.