Case Report – Court won’t order disclosure of health professional’s identity

On January 27th, the British Columbia Supreme Court denied a request for an order requiring an online contact lens and eyeglass business to disclose the identity of an eye care professional it employs.

The College sought the identity of the registrant who worked for the respondents (affiliated companies) in the course of an investigation. The College applied to the Court for an order based on the Court’s equitable jurisdiction (a Norwich Pharmacal order), or alternatively, its inherent jurisdiction (in aide of an inferior tribunal).

The Court held that an order should not be made on either basis. This was partly based on a finding that the evidence did not show the unidentified registrant was involved in the matter under investigation. The Court also held that an order would not be appropriate in light of the statutory powers granted to the College. The Court suggested that the College had ample means to identify the registrant without relying on the Court, noting its power to inspect the premises and records of a registrant, the possibility of asking for warrant to search a non-registrant’s premises and the possibility of requiring registrants to file their business address and telephone number.

College of Opticians of British Columbia v. Coastal Contacts Inc., 2010 BCSC 104 (CanLII).

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