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December 13, 2011

Court Says No to Fishing on Facebook, Twitter

The role of Facebook in BC Courtrooms is once again in the headlines.

In Dosangh v. Leblanc and St. Paul’s Hospital, a woman is suing doctors and support staff for damages suffered during open heart surgery. The plaintiff says that preventable complications during the surgery caused a stroke that left her with permanent mental and physical disabilities.

Lawyers for the hospital file an application with the BC Supreme Court asking for access to the plaintiff’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. They say access should be allowed since her health, enjoyment of life, and employability are central issues in the case.

But the Court dismisses the application, believing it too broad and lacking focus. The Court calls the request a “classic fishing expedition” without the appropriate bait.

The role of Facebook and social media in Canadian courtrooms continues to grow. But it is up to the Court to determine whether or not online information is relevant for a particular case. In some instances, access to Facebook and similar sites will be granted. But an aimless search of online content will likely be considered an unnecessary breach of one’s privacy.

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Author - James Richards

James Richards is a born and raised Vancouverite who studied History, Political Science and Law at University of British Columbia. His over 20 years of legal practice and a busy and active family gives him his purpose, focus and some good writing material. When not in work–mode, he enjoys any excuse to be out and about our amazing city.