Privacy beats the bank


Last week, the Ontario Court of Appeal released a decision in Citi Cards Canada Inc. v. Pleasance. In this case, Citi Financial wanted to collect on a credit card debt of $11,000.00 through a forced sale of the debtor’s home. In order to do so, however, it needed confidential information from the debtor’s mortgage lenders. When the lenders refused to release this information, Citi sued, claiming that it was entitled to the information for its own protection. In its ruling, the Court determined that privacy is more important than the debt owing, and declared that PIPEDA, Canada’s privacy law, prevents lenders from revealing confidential information to anyone, even other creditors in order to facilitate the collection of a debt. This decision means that lenders can use PIPEDA to prevent creditors from acquiring this type of information, but it also means that lenders that had been voluntarily sharing this information can no longer do so. While there is still very strong protection for creditors against defaulting debtors, a debtor who is current on his or her mortgage and in default on another loan may be able to be safe from a power of sale.