The Canadian Privacy Law Blog: Developments in privacy law and writings of a Canadian privacy lawyer, containing information related to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (aka PIPEDA) and other Canadian and international laws.

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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

For full contact information and a brief bio, please see David's profile.

Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Alberta Commissioner issues important ruling on guardians versus mature minors 

The Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta, Frank Work, has issued an order under the province's Health Informtion Act that will likely stand as a strong precedent for PIPEDA and other privacy laws.

In this particular case, the guardian of a "mature minor" was requesting information related to her daughter. The Commissioner concluded that if the minor "understands the nature of the right or power and the consequences of exercising the right or power" in the Act, the guardian cannot exercise those powers. This test comes directly from the Act:

104(1) Any right or power conferred on an individual by this Act may be exercised …..
(b) if the individual is under 18 years of age and understands the nature of the right or power and the consequences of exercising the right or power, by the individual,

(c) if the individual is under 18 years of age but does not meet the criterion in clause (b), by the guardian of the individual.

The decision inclues a thorough review of the evolving norms and standards in Canadian law related to "mature minors".

The Commissioner's press release on the Order is below:

Commissioner issues important ruling on the authority of a guardian versus a mature minor:

June 26, 2006

Edmonton... Alberta's Information and Privacy Commissioner has ruled that a parent who requested her daughter's medical records did not have the right to exercise the daughter's rights or powers under the Health Information Act (HIA).

Frank Work made the determination during an inquiry into a request from a parent for access to certain medical records regarding her daughter. The Commissioner has ruled that in this particular case, the minor was entitled to exercise her own rights or powers under the HIA because she was able to understand the nature and consequences of exercising those rights. Such an individual is also known as a mature minor.

The HIA allows a guardian to exercise the rights or powers of a minor if the guardian can show that the minor does not understand the nature or the consequences of exercising the right or power.

In making the ruling, Commissioner Work indicated that he did not have jurisdiction to hear other issues put forward at the inquiry.

The Order is Number F2005-017 and H2005-001.

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