The injury claimant, 42 years of age was sexually assaulted by her father and her personal injury lawyer outlined allegations of repetitive sexual abuse commencing when she was a child. She also alleged that the Province of BC placed her back in the residence with her father.The claimant sought general damages, special damages for increased cost of care, aggravated damages and punitive damages, amongst other heads of relief sought.
She attended a Sexual Assault Counselling for help. The Province then demanded that the Centre produce all the records. The Centre refused. The claimant did not object to the disclosure being sought by the Applicant. She recognized that there is a possibility the disclosure will assist her in proving her case. Furthermore, unlike many victims of sexual assault where confidentiality is important, this claimant felt empowered by the ability to present her claims in open court.
The injuries claimed included post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, difficulties with inter-personal relationships, sexual dysfunction, guilt, humiliation and embarrassment, lack of trust, lack of self-esteem, suicide ideation and attempt.
The Master refused to make an order under Rule 7-1(18) of have the Sexual Assault Counselling Centre produce their records. Instead the claimant was ordered to attend at the Counselling Centre, ascertain the dates she attended there for counselling, and provide those dates, through her personal injury lawyer, to the other parties.
The court made it clear however that Counselling Centres cannot contract out of the document production provision of the civil rules:
 While I appreciate that this wording is viewed by [the Counselling Centre] as necessary to protect its file, an entity cannot “contract out” of the disclosure requirements of the Civil Rules. If disclosure parameters are met, disclosure will be ordered.(Wright v. Becker, 2018 BCSC 451)
The court acknowledged that in order for an effective counselling relationship to exist, there needs to be trust between the client and the counsellor. If notes made by the counsellor to assist in the counselling are required to be disclosed this will adversely affect that trust relationship.
The counselling notes were described as documents of questionable relevance or which contain information available from other sources, and was declared privileged. Apart from requiring the claimant to provide the dates of her counselling sessions, the application for production of the sexual assault counselling records was dismissed.
Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B