In a powerful ruling from the B.C. Court of appeal, we successfully obtained an order sealing the court file and anonymizing our clients’ names on the basis that the existence of an investigation alone, prior to public allegations being made, would not only severely prejudice our clients’ reputation but also impact the integrity of the capital markets. The case arose in the context of an investigation by the B.C. Securities Commission. The court relied on our legal argument and evidence presented in finding that that the mere existence of the investigation would, among other concerns:
- significantly damage our clients’ business and personal reputations
- allow inferences to be drawn from our clients’ identities that could further damage the reputations of other persons and entities associated to our clients
- leave the public with the erroneous impression that our clients have engaged in some kind of wrongdoing when no such inference can or should be drawn and that this would amount to premature and misleading disclosure that would impact the capital markets.
This ruling vindicates the privacy interests of those under investigation with potentially far-reaching implications for investigations outside of the capital markets by potentially creating new opportunities for us to take substantive steps before tribunals and the court during investigations without the fear that any such step would only serve to negatively identify our clients. For individuals and entities under investigation by any criminal or regulatory body, this ruling represents an important milestone and strategic opportunity.
A link to the decision can be found here: https://www.bccourts.ca/jdb-txt/ca/20/00/2020BCCA0088.htm