Issue Archive

Untangling the Supreme Court’s decision in RBC v. Trang

The Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) recently issued a decision in Royal Bank of Canada v. Trang (RBC), which marks the end of a drawn-out quest by RBC to obtain the mortgage discharge statement it needed to enforce a judgment against a couple who failed to repay a loan.

Rules of civil procedure allow a judgment creditor to obtain a mortgage discharge statement from a mortgagee when required to recover a debt through the sale of property. But because following the rules can be time-consuming and expensive, RBC highlighted the need for a more efficient process. The SCC introduced a form of short cut that allows courts to skip some of the steps laid out in the rules, which seems to provide the solution that RBC was after.

What makes this decision interesting from a privacy perspective is that the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act was framed as conflicting with the rights of judgment creditors because, absent an independent legal requirement or court order, it does not authorize this information to be disclosed without consent.

To address this perceived shortcoming, the SCC decided that the rights of unrelated third parties are to be factored into determining whether an individual has given implied consent to an organization. As a result, the SCC has pushed the concept of ‘reasonable expectations’ further than ever before. This seems to increase the obligation of individuals to understand the many ways in which their personal information might be used and disclosed, even if these uses or disclosures are not explained by the organization collecting personal information in the first place.

This issue of PrivacyScan reflects our best effort explain the significance of this decision as succinctly as possible, and what it might mean going forward.

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