Tort of Invasion of Privacy
Hello, my name is Nick Slinko and I am an associate at the Feldstein Family Law Group. In today’s session, I will be discussing a 2012 court of appeal case regarding the tort of invasion of privacy known as ‘intrusion upon seclusion’. You may be wondering how a tort action is relevant to a family law matter. Hopefully, this video will provide you with some answers and give you a better idea of why you may want to consider the facts of this case in your family matter as well as the importance of respecting your partner’s privacy prior to and upon or after separation.
The 2012 Court of Appeal case of Jones v. Tsige discusses the tort of invasion of privacy, which is now recognized in Ontario as intrusion upon seclusion. The general range of damages in this type of a claim is up to $20,000.00.
The features of this cause of action are:
- First, that the defendant's conduct must be intentional, or reckless;
- Second that the defendant must have invaded, without lawful justification, the plaintiff's private affairs or concerns and;
- Third, that a reasonable person would regard the invasion as highly offensive causing distress, humiliation or anguish.
It is important to keep in mind however, that proof of harm to a recognized economic interest is not an element of the cause of action. A claim for intrusion upon seclusion will arise only for deliberate and significant invasions of personal privacy. The case law suggests that claims from individuals who are sensitive or unusually concerned about their privacy are excluded, therefore, it is only intrusions into matters such as one's financial or health records, sexual practices and orientation, employment, diary or private correspondence that, viewed objectively can be described as highly offensive.
It is not unusual for lawyers to hear stories of parties in a separation or divorce proceeding digging through their spouses personal e-mails, voicemails, Facebook or other social media accounts, or private documents in hopes of finding something incriminating. There are even circumstances where one spouse will record conversations held by the other party with a third party in hopes that they will be able to use it against them in court in the future. It is clear based on this new law, that the invasive party can now be reprimanded for his / her actions. It is strongly advised that parties refrain from looking through the other parties’ personal documents and information as this new tort claim now means that your spouse can make a civil claim against you if you are found guilty of this type of conduct.
If you are a victim of this tortious claim and you have separated from your spouse, contact us for a consultation where we can discuss how it will impact your family law matter at 905-581-7222 or log onto www.separation.ca. Thank you for watching and I’ll see you next time!