Alberta Mirror

Friday, September 29, 2023

Judge rules Alberta privacy commissioner office to give expenses in FOIP combat

Key takeaways: 

  • ‘The commissioner’s plan is worthy of punishment.’
  • Information commissioner Jill Clayton’s office has been directed to give legal expenses to the University of Calgary. 

Jill Clayton’s office to pay legal costs to the University of Calgary: 

An Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench Justice has directed the Office of the Privacy and Information Commissioner to give expenses in the newest round of a years-long legal dispute over an information application.

Justice Karen M. Horner saw Alberta’s privacy commissioner Jill Clayton had acted as “a strong partisan advocate,” outside her role of the impartial speaker on jurisdictional concerns. Source –

“The commissioner’s conduct, in continuing to review the issue of solicitor privilege over the university’s records after the very clear language of no less than three judges of the Supreme Court, is deserving of sanction,” Horner penned in her judgment. Source –

The prices were set within $75,000 and $200,000, according to court decision parameters. A spokesperson for the privacy commissioner stated the ultimate cost has not yet been given by the university.

Also read: Myanmar-court orders sacked leader Aung San Suu Kyi to 4-years in jail

Judge orders Jill Clayton to pay legal costs to the University of Calgary

The decision stems from a 2009 freedom of information (FOIP) call by a former University of Calgary employee for records correlating to their end.

Although that suit was completed in 2012, the subject of solicitor-client privilege alleged by the university in keeping some records turned into almost a decade of court fights involving the privacy commissioner’s office.

The university fought a 2017 order from the privacy commissioner’s office to present records that would possibly not be covered by the privilege.

In October, Horner gave payments to the university.

The opening

In 2008, a former university representative filed an access to information call for documents around the same time she was claiming the university for wrongful removal.

The university required solicitor-client privilege over documents from communications with its in-house and outer lawyers. In 2009, the former employee claimed the commissioner’s office — headed by Frank Work at the time — to begin a probe.

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