Case Report – BCCA deals with production of class member records in proportionality decision

In a February 13th oral judgement, the British Columbia Court of Appeal affirmed an order that required the province to produce records pertaining to class members who had not opted out of a class proceeding.

The proceeding alleges systemic negligence and breach of fiduciary in the operation of a residential school. In ordering production of records related to individuals who had not opted out of a potential class of up to 2,200 members, the Court affirmed three findings:

  1. that production should not be denied because of the records’ potential misuse as evidence of individual incidents (given their prima facie relevance to the systemic breach claims); 
  2. that production should not be denied based on privacy concerns given that potential class members were given notice and an opportunity to protect their files from disclosure by opting out; and
  3. that production should not be denied based on the scope of production (about 2.2 million pages of records), noting that the production request was not “a futile search for documents of unknown relevance.”

As the concept of “proportional” production takes greater prominence in Canadian civil procedure, this case is a nice illustration of how the cost of production can have various elements. One might argue that it demonstrates a rather traditional or fulsome-production view, where costs related to procedural complications and delay, privacy and document review do not weigh heavily in the balance.

Richard v. British Columbia, 2009 BCCA 77.

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