Cat trumps dog in privacy case


In what circumstances does freedom of information trump the right to privacy?

On April 4th, a decision was made by adjudicator Laurel Cropley, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, ordering the Township of South Dundas to release relevant information in a local case involving a cat and a dog.

According to the details laid out in the order, “the appellant is seeking legal redress for the loss of (and any expenses pertaining to injuries sustained by) the cat as a result of an altercation with a dog.”

“The appellant believes that the affected parties own the dog in question and seeks confirmation of that fact in order to proceed with her claim.”

“The facts and liability relating to this matter are for the court to determine; however, in the circumstances, I find that the information the appellant seeks is relevant to a fair determination of her rights, and that this factor is sufficient to outweigh any privacy interests the affected parties have in the information at issue.”

Cropley pointed out that “the information contained in the records simply records the licensing information pertaining to dogs in the care of the affected parties.”

“There is no evidence before me that this information was provided in confidence, nor is it highly sensitive.”

“I am not persuaded that disclosure of the records would expose the affected parties to any ‘harm’ or ‘damage to their reputation’. In the event that the appellant takes legal action against them, any resultant ‘harm’ or ‘damage’ would not be unfair in the circumstances.”

The order by Cropley states: “I order the township to disclose the records at issue to the appellant, by providing her with a severed copy (containing only the information she seeks) by May 11, 2012 but not before May 7, 2012.”

Information about the order can be found on the Information and Privacy Commissioner for Ontario’s website at under “decisions and resolutions.”

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