Legal Services Society v. British Columbia(Information and Privacy Commissioner), (2003) 182 B.C.A.C. 234 (CA)

JurisdictionBritish Columbia
JudgeNewbury, Braidwood and Levine, JJ.A.
Neutral Citation2003 BCCA 278
Citation(2003), 182 B.C.A.C. 234 (CA),2003 BCCA 278,226 DLR (4th) 20,[2003] 8 WWR 399,14 BCLR (4th) 67,182 BCAC 234,25 CPR (4th) 5,[2003] BCJ No 1093 (QL),[2003] B.C.J. No 1093 (QL),226 D.L.R. (4th) 20,(2003), 182 BCAC 234 (CA),182 B.C.A.C. 234
Date12 May 2003
CourtCourt of Appeal (British Columbia)

Legal Services Soc. v. Privacy Commr. (2003), 182 B.C.A.C. 234 (CA);

    300 W.A.C. 234

MLB headnote and full text

Temp. Cite: [2003] B.C.A.C. TBEd. MY.045

In The Matter Of the Judicial Review Procedure Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 241;

And In The Matter Of the Decision of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia (Order No. 322-1999), July 30, 1999, made under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 165.

Legal Services Society (respondent/petitioner) v. The Information and Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia and Adrienne Tanner (appellants/respondents) and Radio and Television News Directors' Association (respondent/respondent) and The British Columbia Branch of the Canadian Bar Association (intervenor/respondent)

(CA028263; CA028265; 2003 BCCA 278)

Indexed As: Legal Services Society (B.C.) v. Information and Privacy Commissioner (B.C.) et al.

British Columbia Court of Appeal

Newbury, Braidwood and Levine, JJ.A.

May 12, 2003.

Summary:

A newspaper reporter requested that the Legal Services Society (which provided legal aid to qualified persons) provide a list of the top five immigration billers and top five criminal billers by name and amount billed. Subsequently, she narrowed the time-frame of her request from the whole of 1998 to nine months from April 1 to December 31, 1998. LSS forwarded the reporter a table showing the respective amounts billed by the 10 top billers in the nine-month period, but not the names of the lawyers. The reporter "appealed" the decision.

The Information and Privacy Commis­sioner undertook a written inquiry under s. 56 of the Freedom of Information and Pro­tection of Privacy Act. The Commissioner determined that the LSS was not entitled to refuse access to the records in dispute, under either s. 14 or 22 of the Act. He ruled that the information in dispute was not subject to solicitor-client privilege and that disclosure would not reveal information that was sub­ject to privilege. The LSS petitioned for an order quashing the Commissioner's order pursuant to s. 7 of the Judicial Review Pro­cedure Act and rules 10(1)(a) and 57.

The British Columbia Supreme Court, in a decision reported at [2001] B.C.T.C. 203, allowed the petition, ruling that the Com­missioner erred in law in applying s. 14. The Commissioner and the reporter appealed.

The British Columbia Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

Crown - Topic 7203

Examination of public documents - Free­dom of information - Bars - Solicitor-client privilege - A reporter sought dis­closure from the Legal Services Society of the names of and amounts billed by the top immigration and criminal lawyers provid­ing legal aid during nine months in 1998 - The LSS contended that such disclosure would breach solicitor-client privilege, as it could enable the discovery of clients' names - The British Columbia Court of Appeal affirmed that the Infor­mation and Privacy Commissioner erred in ordering the disclosure of the lawyers' names, since solicitor-client privilege would be infringed if such disclosure could permit the dis­covery of their clients' ident­ities - See paragraphs 2 to 13, 37 to 38.

Crown - Topic 7207

Examination of public documents - Free­dom of information - Bars - Confidential­ity - [See Crown - Topic 7203 ].

Crown - Topic 7246

Examination of public documents - Free­dom of information - Judicial review and appeals - Standard of review - A reporter sought disclosure from the Legal Services Society of the names of and amounts billed by the top immigration and criminal law­yers providing legal aid during nine months in 1998 - The LSS contended that such disclosure would breach solicitor-client privilege, as it could enable the discovery of clients' names - The British Columbia Court of Appeal held that "if ... the privilege is to be maintained as close as possible to 'absolute', a standard of correctness must be applied to the [In­for­mation and Privacy] Commissioner's deter­mination ..." - The court also held that the standard of correctness applied to the Court of Appeal's review of the deci­sion of the Chambers judge - See para­graphs 14 to 36.

Crown - Topic 7294

Examination of public documents - Free­dom of information - Practice - Judicial review - Standard of review - [See Crown - Topic 7246 ].

Cases Noticed:

Legal Services Society (B.C.) v. Informa­tion and Privacy Commissioner (B.C.) (1996), 140 D.L.R.(4th) 372 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 6].

Municipal Insurance Association (B.C.) v. Infor­mation and Privacy Commis­sioner (B.C.) (1996), 143 D.L.R.(4th) 134 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 11].

Lavallee, Rackel & Heintz et al. v. Canada (Attorney General) (2002), 292 N.R. 296; 312 A.R. 201; 281 W.A.C. 201; 217 Nfld. & P.E.I.R. 183; 651 A.P.R. 183; 164 O.A.C. 280; 216 D.L.R.(4th) 257 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 11].

White, Ottenheimer & Baker v. Canada (Attorney General) - see Lavallee, Rackel & Heintz et al. v. Canada (Attorney General).

R. v. Fink (J.) - see Lavallee, Rackel & Heintz et al. v. Canada (Attorney Gen­eral).

Thorson v. Jones (1973), 38 D.L.R.(3d) 312 (B.C.S.C.), refd to. [para. 11].

Pezim v. British Columbia Securities Com­mission et al., [1994] 2 S.C.R. 557; 168 N.R. 321; 46 B.C.A.C. 1; 75 W.A.C. 1, refd to. [para. 12].

Pezim v. British Columbia (Superintendent of Brokers) - see Pezim v. British Columbia­ Securities Com­mission et al.

Pushpanathan v. Canada (Minister of Citi­zenship and Immigration), [1998] 1 S.C.R. 982; 226 N.R. 201, addendum [1998] 1 S.C.R. 1222, refd to. [para. 12].

Director of Investigation and Research, Competition Act v. Southam Inc. et al., [1997] 1 S.C.R. 748; 209 N.R. 20, refd to. [para. 12].

Dr. Q., Re (2003), 302 N.R. 34; 179 B.C.A.C. 170; 295 W.A.C. 170 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 12].

Dr. Q. v. College of Physicians and Sur­geons (B.C.) - see Dr. Q., Re.

Ryan v. Law Society of New Brunswick (2003), 302 N.R. 1 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 12].

Athey v. Leonati et al., [1996] 3 S.C.R. 458; 203 N.R. 36; 81 B.C.A.C. 243; 132 W.A.C. 243, refd to. [para. 14].

Aquasource Ltd. v. Freedom of Informa­tion and Protection of Priv­acy Commis­sioner (B.C.) et al. (1998), 111 B.C.A.C. 95; 181 W.A.C. 95; 58 B.C.L.R.(3d) 61 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 20].

Conseil de la magistrature (N.-B.) v. Moreau-Bérubé, [2002] 1 S.C.R. 249; 281 N.R. 201; 245 N.B.R.(2d) 201; 636 A.P.R. 201, refd to. [para. 20].

Moreau-Bérubé v. New Brunswick (Judi­cial Council) - see Conseil de la magistrature (N.-B.) v. Moreau-Bérubé.

Macdonell v. Québec (Commission d'accès à l'information) (2002), 294 N.R. 238; 219 D.L.R.(4th) 193 (S.C.C.), refd to. [para. 23].

Greater Vancouver Mental Health Service Society v. Information and Privacy Com­missioner (B.C.) et al. (1999), 3 B.C.T.C. 161 (S.C.), refd to. [para. 24].

Dagg v. Canada (Minister of Finance), [1997] 2 S.C.R. 403; 213 N.R. 161, refd to. [para. 28].

Descôteaux et al. v. Mierzwinski et al., [1982] 1 S.C.R. 860; 44 N.R. 462, refd to. [para. 29].

Ontario Hydro v. Information and Privacy Commissioner (Ont.), [1996] O.J. No. 4636 (Div. Ct.), refd to. [para. 32].

Ontario (Attorney General) v. Information and Privacy Commissioner (Ont.) et al. (1997), 101 O.A.C. 140; 34 O.R.(3d) 611 (C.A.), refd to. [para. 32].

Walmsley v. Ontario (Attorney General) - see Ontario (Attorney General) v. Infor­mation and Privacy Commissioner (Ont.) et al.

Statutes Noticed:

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 165, sect. 14 [para. 1].

Authors and Works Noticed:

Manes, Ronald D., and Silver, Michael P., Sol­icitor-Client Privilege in Canadian Law (1993), p. 141 [para. 11].

Counsel:

S.E. Ross, for the appellant, Information and Privacy Commissioner;

D.W. Burnett, for the appellant, Adrienne Tanner;

D. MacAdams, Q.C., for the respondent, Legal Services Society;

G.P. DelBigio and T. Hunter, for the intervenor, B.C. Branch of the Canadian Bar Association.

This appeal was heard on April 3, 2003, at Vancouver, British Columbia, before Newbury, Braidwood and Levine, JJ.A., of the British Columbia Court of Appeal.

The decision of the Court of Appeal was delivered on May 12, 2003, by Newbury, J.A.

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