The Supreme Court Of Canada Confirms Privacy As Ground For Sealing Orders

In its decision in Sherman Estate v Donovan  2021 SCC 25 (Sherman), the Supreme Court of Canada recognized on Monday that the public interest in protecting individuals\’ dignity is sufficiently important that a sealing order preventing disclosure of personal information may be granted. 

However, Sherman  sets the bar for granting a sealing order protecting personal information very high. Only information that \”reveals something intimate and personal about the individual, their lifestyle, or experiences,\” such as sexual orientation or potentially stigmatizing medical information will likely support the granting of a sealing order.

This is the first SCC judgment of its kind to give us a definition of dignity in the context of privacy and technology. Judicial creativity is always exciting when it comes from the Supreme Court. The court doesn\’t give an exhaustive catalogue of grounds that are likely to succeed, but on a first sight the judgment appears to favour access to justice for survivors. Therefore, I am going to take the time to break it down in a future post.