Saturday, January 31, 2009

BCCA upholds damages for strip search of BC lawyer

On August 1, 2002, Vancouver police thought that Cameron Ward, a noted civil rights lawyer in British Columbia, matched the description of an individual they had been warned might try and throw a pie at Prime Minister Chretien during his speech at an outdoor dedication ceremony in Vancouver's Chinatown. Ward was arrested and detained for four hours and strip searched. The trial judge concluded that his arrest for breach of the peace was lawful because he had been protesting his detention and drawing attention to himself. However, the trial judge further held that his continued detention was unlawful and that the strip search by corrections officers employed by the City of Vancouver violated section 8 of the Charter. He awarded $5,000 in damages for the tort of unlawful imprisonment and $5,000 for the section 8 Charter violation. The Court of Appeal did not interfere with these findings or damages.

The decision is significant because a majority of the Court of Appeal rejected the City of Vancouver's argument that there should be no award of damages in civil cases where the Charter violation by government actors occurred absent a concurrent tort, abuse of power, negligence or wilful blindness.

Click here for the decision.

Posted by Professor Tanovich

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