September 2016
PFD | Litigation
The Julie Snyder File

A reminder regarding "Norwich" orders

By Shane Goldman

On the 14th of July, 2016, the Superior Court of Quebec rendered a decision forcing Claude Viens, Groupe Sécurité Garda Inc. and Groupe Sécurité Garda s.e.n.c. (hereinafter referred to as "Garda") to reveal to Julie Snyder the identity of the person or people who were having Garda investigate her. One day later, Justice Robert M. Mainville of the Quebec Court of Appeal refused to hear an appeal of said decision (Groupe de sécurité Garda inc. c. Snyder, 2016 QCCA 1181).

In this matter, Julie Snyder had discovered that she was being investigated and had even managed to identify the person who was investigating her. Be that as it may, she had not yet identified the person who was having her investigated or, in other words, the person who had retained Garda's services.

This case serves as a reminder to the legal community of an important but oft-forgotten recourse called a "Norwich" order. Typically such an order is used when somebody who suffers damages as a result of the acts of a third party is hoping to identify said third party. It allows the party that has suffered damages to obtain information or the identity of the person or entity that caused the damage from another person or entity.

It is of note that a "Norwich" order is not limited to those being investigated at the request of an unidentified third party. It is conceivable that it could be used in a multitude of situations, not the least of which may be identifying somebody who is injuring you over the internet. This is particularly interesting in an era where a large number of people are connected to the internet in some way, shape or form from the minute they wake up to the minute they go to sleep, if not 24/7 altogether.

For example, Justice Strathy of the Superior Court of Ontario (York University v. Bell Canada Enterprises, 2009 CanLII 46447 (ON SC)) ordered internet service providers to disclose information regarding clients who had certain IP addresses. In a recent case, the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia ordered Facebook to disclose information regarding accounts on its web site (Olsen v. Facebook Inc., 2016 NSSC 155).

We invite you to communicate with us in the event that you have any questions or wish to learn more about the subject.