The Québec Court of Appeal, in a recent 2-to-1 decision, has upheld a judgement from the Superior Court forcing Manulife Financial to disclose a number of confidential documents exchanged between the insurance company and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions ("OSFI").1 In the context of a certified class action suit against the insurance company, the majority of the Court ruled that the statutory obligation of non-disclosure of prescribed information contained in the Supervisory Information (Insurance Companies) Regulations (SOR/2001-56) is not absolute and does not extend to potentially relevant documents in a litigious context. As a result, plaintiffs are allowed to demand disclosure of such documents despite the legal framework in place governing the powers of surveillance, investigation and regulation of the OSFI with regard to financial institutions.

Justice Morin, J.C.A., dissenting, would have granted the objection raised by Manulife Financial on the basis that the applicable legislation offers no basis permitting to qualify the prohibition on the disclosure of prescribed information as relative, as opposed to absolute.

It will be interesting to see what the further treatment and impact of this case will be in common law jurisdictions.