Judicial review documents tucked into wrong envelope

A legal assistant with the Canadian Human Rights Commission accidentally included two packages of documents intended for separate individuals in the same envelope. As a result, the complainant’s personal information was disclosed to another person.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission had been served with applications for judicial review by two people. In accordance with Federal Court rules, the Commission must disclose relevant documents to the individuals who filed the applications. While preparing the two packages, a legal assistant accidentally inserted both sets of documents in the same envelope for mailing.

The person who received both sets of documents alerted the Commission, which then advised the complainant’s lawyer. The Commission receives approximately 100 applications for judicial review every year and stated this was the first time such an incident had occurred.

The complaint was well-founded. The incident occurred as a result of human error. To ensure the mistake does not happen again and to reinforce to staff the importance of protecting personal information, the Commission implemented a number of changes to its procedures. For example, legal assistants will write their initials on address labels. The lawyer responsible for the judicial review will be accountable for the disclosure of documents and review packages for accuracy.

The Commission also prepared a detailed list of steps to take whenever there is an information breach, including the retrieval of documents and immediate notification of the director and senior counsel.

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