The Architectural Institute of British Columbia (“AIBC”) was unsuccessful on an application for judicial review of the adjudication of a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act request for various employment contracts of executives with AIBC, made by a former employee of AIBC (“Redenbach”)

Administrative law – Freedom of information and protection of privacy – Disclosure – Adjudication – Judicial review – Standard of review – Reasonableness simpliciter

Architectural Institute of British Columbia v. British Columbia (Information and Privacy Commissioner), [2004] B.C.J. No. 465, British Columbia Supreme Court, February 18, 2004, Metzger J.

Redenbach requested various information from AIBC, some of which was produced. AIBC declined to produce details of the employment contracts of the Executive Director and the original and current contracts of the Director of Professional Services. AIBC withheld the records on the belief that the references to individual salaries, benefits and termination provisions were personal information.

The adjudicator of the decision held that the information had to be produced. AIBC applied for judicial review of the adjudicator ’s decision on the grounds that the adjudicator had erroneously applied the legislation to the facts, had failed to consider the reasonable expectations of harm to third parties named in the disputed records, and that the adjudicator’s order thereby constituted an unreasonable invasion of privacy.

The Court used the pragmatic and functional approach outlined in Dr. Q. v. College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, [2003] S.C.J. No. 18 to determine that the appropriate standard of review was that of reasonableness simpliciter. The Act contained no privative clause and the questions were questions of mixed fact and law, but the purpose of the Act was polycentric and therefore suggestive of deference, and the issues before the Court fell within the relative expertise of the Privacy Commissioner or his delegate.

The Court held that there were no errors in the adjudicator’s decision, and that in particular she applied the appropriate test of the risk of harm to third parties, namely whether harm could reasonably be expected. She held that the arguments relating to harm arising out of the disclosure of the records were speculative, and her conclusion was a reasonable determination on the evidence before her.

The application was dismissed, and the adjudicator was held not to have erred in granting Redenbach access to the disputed records.

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