Author Archives: Christoph

Canada’s Statutory Privacy Torts in Commonwealth Perspective

by Chris D. L. Hunt* and Nikta Shirazian**

(2016) Oxford U Comparative L Forum 3 at ouclf.iuscomp.org | How to cite this article

In the last decade common law privacy torts have emerged in Ontario, England and New Zealand, and three recent law reform commissions in Australia have issued reports recommending similar actions in that country. Four Canadian common law provinces have had statutory privacy torts for decades (British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland). These statutes offer little guidance as to when a privacy interest will arise and the case law does little to illuminate. Despite dozens of decisions, few are at the appellate level, and none have engaged in a detailed assessment of the factors relevant to assessing privacy claims in the tort context. In this paper, the authors undertake a thorough analysis of the Canadian case law, uncovering the principles latent in the existing jurisprudence, and critically examine them in light of the dynamic developments occurring in other parts of the Commonwealth. After exploring the structure and scope of these statutory torts in Part One, the authors propose that courts employ a reasonable expectation of privacy test, turning on the existence of 10 contextual factors that are elucidated in Part Two. The authors recommend that these factors be analyzed from two perspectives—the extent to which they serve to identify a privacy interest, and the extent to which they suggest an intrusion was sufficiently objectionable to warrant recognition of a prima facie claim. While the recommendations in this paper are often directed at a Canadian audience, they are informed by the comparative experience abroad and hence could be of real interest to jurists throughout the Commonwealth concerned with the principled operation of privacy torts.
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Judicial Independence: The Judge as a Third Party to the Dispute

by Lorne Neudorf*

(2015) Oxford U Comparative L Forum 2 at ouclf.iuscomp.org | How to cite this article

Abstract

In this article, the author sets out a conceptual framework for judicial independence. From the starting point of adjudication as the basic function of the judiciary, the author embarks on an historical inquiry to shed light on the role of the judge in resolving legal disputes. The inquiry reveals a tradition of adjudicative impartiality that stretches back to the legal system of ancient Egypt. While all judges strive to maintain the status of a third party to the dispute, the historical development of an adjudicative tradition in Egypt resulted in a path-dependent conception of the judicial role that influences present understandings of judges, most prominently seen in the continuing use of the scales of justice hieroglyph. Given its significance to the resolution of disputes, judicial impartiality is the unifying theme in the theory of law advanced by Hobbes, who was keenly aware of the Egyptian practice. According to Hobbes, in the state of nature, each person possesses complete liberty. In order to enter into a peaceful society, individuals must give up the right to decide their own disputes. When individuals no longer act as their own judges, a third party must be called upon to resolve conflict. This decision-maker must maintain third party status by avoiding close connections with the parties or the issue in dispute in order to maintain legitimacy. Given this understanding, the author proposes the perception of impartiality as the rationale of an independent judiciary. Judicial independence seeks to preserve the status of the judge as a third party to the dispute by creating the necessary space between judges and actual and potential sources of improper influences. Because the definition of improper influence is determined by individuals from the community, the principle of judicial independence is significantly context-dependent. Finally, the author critiques the doctrine of judicial independence in Canadian law from the perspective of this conceptual framework.

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New Packaging for Left-Over Big Data: “Identity Proofing” and “Equality Monitoring”

by Orlan Lee*

(2014) Oxford U Comparative L Forum 2 at ouclf.iuscomp.org | How to cite this article

Abstract

“Identity Proofing” is a commercial database search product recently adopted by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), other government agencies, and commercial entities, paradoxically, to verify the identity of the holder of identity documents. Clearly, in the security world, tracking has greater appeal than hard copy credentials. No matter the photo IDs and documents with embossed seals, the system relies on confirming our knowledge of database entries: present and former home addresses, present and former employers, details of financial credit experience, names of personal associates, and what the latter say about the person the system has their eye on. If, when “quizzed” about these things, your answers match the contents of your file, you may convince the inquiring IdP client that you are the rightful holder of your ID docs. Without a warrant, even the police could not seize all your personal information in the United States. Of course, nothing can stop you from consenting to provide it. Presumably, you have also consented, sometime, somewhere, for all this to be already available in a commercial file.

Rarely do we see an industry leader—here a developer of prime “identity proofing” products—also admit that a hidden weakness may lie anywhere along the chain of data collection, entry, search, recovery, or solutions application:

Source data is sometimes reported or entered inaccurately, processed poorly or incorrectly, and is generally not free from defect. This product or service aggregates and reports data as provided by the public records and commercially available data sources, and is not the source of the data, nor is it a compilation of the data. Before relying on any data, it should be independently verified.1

The UK Equality Act signifies real advances toward the “Aim of Equality”. Whether or not reliable or useful statistics emerge from the “Duty to Monitor”, British HR practice now outdoes the Americans in their intrusive personal data tracking.

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