Vabuolas et al vs Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC

Two ex-Jehovah's Witnesses (JW) requested records held by their former congregations in Grand Forks and Coldstream. In both cases, the congregations refused, citing "confidential religious communications." The ex-JW's requested the Information and Privacy Commissioner of BC to review those refusals.

In June 2022, the Commissioner ruled that the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) applies to the congregations and any infringement on the JW's religious rights was justified under Section 1 of the Charter. In August, the JWs filed for judicial review of the Privacy Commissioner's decision and asked the BC Supreme Court to declare that parts of PIPA infringe on their rights to freedom of religion, expression and association.

The BCHA was granted leave to intervene in the case on December 12, 2022, and the case was heard September 27-29, 2023.

Justice Wilson dismissed the JWs petition on January 8, 2024, saying that "freedom of religion is not absolute." The JWs are appealing the decision to the BC Court of Appeal. On June 12, 2024, the BCHA was granted leave to intervene in the hearing, which is scheduled to take place on October 29.

Wes McMillan and John Trueman represented the BCHA at the Supreme Court of British Columbia. John Trueman and Chloe Trudel are representing the BCHA at the BC Court of Appeal.

BC Supreme Court

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