Beaudette v. Alberta Securities Commission, 2015 ABQB 57

On January 22, 2015, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench determined in Beaudette v Alberta (Securities Commission), 2015 ABQB 57, that providing information gathered by the Alberta Securities Commission (“ASC”) during the course of their investigation to foreign agencies does not violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”).

A key fact in this case is that Beaudette had yet to be charged with an offence, and even if he was to be charged, no threat of serious harm to Beaudette (i.e. through the use of the death penalty in the U.S.) would be imminent. The Court in this case did suggest that its analysis may be different if the potential harm to the applicant may have been greater.

The applicant in this matter, Scott Beaudette, was served with a summons from the ASC requiring him to produce materials and attend an interview as part of an ongoing ASC investigation. Mr. Beaudette refused to attend the interview based on his belief that the materials he was required to provide and the interview transcript would be provided to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), who could then possibly forward those materials on to the U.S. Department of Justice, who could potentially pursue criminal charges against him using the investigation materials as evidence.

The Court concluded that, while there was at least some possibility that Mr. Beaudette could be prosecuted in the U.S., what evidence may be used against him in those proceedings is strictly a matter of American criminal procedure, and within the exclusive authority of that country.

In relying on principles set down by the Supreme Court of Canada in previous decisions, the Court determined that it must strike a balance between an individual’s right to privacy and the state’s legitimate interest in obtaining and sharing information, and the particular fact that in securities regulation, the reasonable expectation to privacy in such a heavily regulated industry is low.

A full text of the decision can be found here.