Rémillard – Federal Court finds that the open court principle ousted a taxpayer’s need for privacy

Pamel J granted the taxpayer’s application to exclude various items from the common evidentiary record that created a risk of identity theft, but did not make a confidentiality order regarding the taxpayer’s financial information and certain information regarding third parties. In finding that the taxpayer had not satisfied the first of the three conjunctive Sierra Club tests, namely, that “court openness poses a serious risk to an important public interest,” Pamel J stated:

[The taxpayer’s] preference for discretion with respect to his affairs and his desire to remain out of the public spotlight are not an important public interests. …

[T]here must be an element of an individual’s privacy concerns that elevates them to a public concern, beyond personal concerns and sensibilities (Sherman at para 54).

In this case, there is simply no such element; we are not dealing with a risk to Mr. Rémillard’s personal safety, an attack on his dignity, a risk of psychological harm or a risk to his professional reputation. …

Regarding the related issue of tax secrecy, he stated:

There is no indication that [the taxpayer’s] tax information requires different protection from the usual protection for all other tax records.

Neal Armstrong. Summary of Rémillard v. Canada (National Revenue) 2021 FC 644 under Federal Courts Rules, s. 151(2).