Hands off privileged accident reports: Court

Internal reports can be detrimental to employers if seized by government investigators
By Shannon Klie
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/02/2009

A new court ruling will prevent the Ontario Ministry of Labour from seizing employers’ internal accident investigation reports, so long as they are protected by solicitor-client privilege.

“Companies that do avail themselves of solicitor-client privilege when they’re preparing a really detailed, no-holds-barred, no-stone-left-unturned investigation report are going to be able to keep that report confidential,” said Cheryl Edwards, national lead of law firm Heenan Blaikie’s occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation group.

In R. v. Bruce Power Inc., the Ontario Court of Appeal found the Crown’s seizure of a solicitor-client privileged report violated Bruce Power’s right to a fair trial. All Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) charges against Bruce Power and two supervisors were stayed.