2000 Legislative Session: 4th Session, 36th Parliament
FIRST READING


The following electronic version is for informational purposes only.
The printed version remains the official version.


HONOURABLE ANDREW PETTER
ATTORNEY GENERAL AND MINISTER
RESPONSIBLE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

BILL 29 2000

PROTECTION OF PUBLIC PARTICIPATION ACT

Contents

Section  
1  Definitions
2  Protected communications and conduct
3  Application to dismiss
4  Onus on plaintiff
5  Remedies on application to dismiss
6  Relief under this Act is in addition to other available relief
7  Offence Act
8  Commencement

HER MAJESTY, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of British Columbia, enacts as follows:

Definitions

1 In this Act:

"defendant" means a person against whom a proceeding is brought or maintained;

"government body" means any level of government, and includes

(a) any government body, within the meaning of the Financial Administration Act, or any body appointed or established by, or from which advice is requested by, the Provincial government, and

(b) any equivalent body of any other level of government;

"level of government" includes

(a) the federal government,

(b) the Provincial government,

(c) the government of any other province or territory of Canada, and

(d) the government of any municipality or regional district;

"plaintiff" means a person who initiates or maintains a proceeding against a defendant;

"proceeding" means any action, suit, matter, cause, counterclaim, appeal or originating application brought in any court.

Protected communications and conduct

2 (1) Subject to subsection (2), a person may make any communication or engage in any conduct if the communication or conduct is genuinely aimed at promoting or furthering lawful action by the public or by any government body in relation to an issue of public interest.

(2) Communication or conduct is not protected under subsection (1) if the communication or conduct

(a) resulted in damage to or destruction of property,

(b) resulted in physical injury,

(c) was in breach of any law or any order of any court, or

(d) is considered by a court to be an unwarranted interference with the rights or property of any person.

(3) No proceeding lies, for damages or otherwise, against any person for any communication or conduct protected under this section.

Application to dismiss

3 (1) If a defendant against whom a proceeding is brought or maintained considers that the proceeding contravenes section 2 (3), the defendant may, no later than 60 days before the date scheduled for the hearing of the trial of the proceeding, bring an application to dismiss the proceeding.

(2) If an application is brought under subsection (1), all further applications, procedures or other steps in the proceeding are, unless the court otherwise orders, suspended until the application has been heard and decided.

Onus on plaintiff

4 If, in an application brought under section 3, the court is satisfied, on whatever evidence the court considers appropriate, that the proceeding is one to which section 2 (3) might apply, section 5 applies unless the plaintiff satisfies the court, on whatever evidence the court considers appropriate, that

(a) the proceeding is not one to which section 2 (3) applies, or

(b) the plaintiff has a reasonable possibility of proving at the hearing of the proceeding that the proceeding is not one to which section 2 (3) applies.

Remedies on application to dismiss

5 (1) If, on an application referred to in section 4, the plaintiff does not satisfy the court under section 4 (a) or (b),

(a) the defendant may obtain an order

(i) dismissing the proceeding, and

(ii) ordering the plaintiff to pay all of the reasonable costs and expenses incurred by the defendant, including all of the defendant's reasonable legal fees and disbursements, in defending the proceeding, in bringing the application and in realizing on any order made under this paragraph and paragraph (b), and

(b) the court may, in addition to the costs and expenses referred to in paragraph (a) (ii), on its own motion or on the application of the defendant, award punitive or exemplary damages against the plaintiff.

(2) If, after the trial of any proceeding that was not dismissed under subsection (1) (a) (i), the court is satisfied, on whatever evidence the court considers appropriate, that the proceeding is one to which section 2 (3) applies, the defendant in that proceeding may obtain the orders referred to in subsection (1) of this section.

Relief under this Act is in addition to other available relief

6 Nothing in this Act limits or restricts the rights available to a defendant under any Act or any rule of any court.

Offence Act

7 Section 5 of the Offence Act does not apply to this Act.

Commencement

8 This Act comes into force by regulation of the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

 
Explanatory Note

This Act protects persons from being subjected to lawsuits that would stifle their ability to promote, in the public interest, action by the public or by any level of government. Provision is made in this Act for such lawsuits to be dismissed at an early stage, for defendants subjected to such suits to be indemnified for the costs they incur in responding to those proceedings and for the court to award additional damages to those defendants in appropriate circumstances.


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