By CRM Staff
Toronto, Ontario -- May 28, 2018 -- Next month, an Ontario court will deal with the question: Is secretly placing cameras in a private business against the law?
The question comes after insurance company Aviva Canada planted cameras in cars which were sent and repaired at ten Toronto-area autobody repair businesses in an attempt to see the shops overcharged clients. The decision regarding whether or not the cameras were illegal will determine whether criminal charges will be laid against five employees of Aviva Canada, as well as a private investigator hired by the company, according to a CBC news report on cbc.ca. Results of the investigation were aired on CTV's W5 news program earlier this year.
The owner of one of the shops investigated by Aviva, who is currently, along with several other shops, facing legal action from Aviva, recently appeared in a Toronto court with plans to argue that the insurance company should be charged with mischief, conspiracy and interception of private communications, says CBC.
“Aviva crossed a very serious line when they did this. They took it upon themselves to enter a facility through video cameras and watch everything that goes on there and listen to conversations,” Cos Licursi, owner of Eugene Collision, told CBC Toronto.
According to CBC, Licursi says the company acted like a “peeping Tom,” and that even “police would require a warrant,” in order to spy on a private business. In Canada it is illegal to plant listening and video devices inside private spaces without the owner’s consent.
Licursi says he supports Aviva’s efforts to expose insurance fraud. However, he claims his company’s reputation was unfairly tarnished in the process, adding that Aviva “Can’t engage in alleged criminal activity as a means to obtain evidence of alleged wrongdoing.”
Xavier Navarrete, Licursi’s lawyer, says the situation has much wider implications for the public. According to the CBC, Navarrete says if Aviva’s investigators aren’t held accountable, other companies may believe they have the green light to plant secret recording devices, too.
Priscilla Wong, Aviva's spokesperson, told CBC Toronto the company was unaware of the allegations being made against its employees, but she says Aviva stands by its efforts to root out fraud.
"We remain resolute in our commitment to address fraud that costs Ontario drivers millions of dollars a year in additional premiums," Wong writes in a statement.
"Aviva has acted lawfully during the process of this investigation. We were unaware of the allegations to which you refer, however, it appears to come as a response to our pursuit of certain bodyshops and individuals in the civil courts to recover damages for fraudulent autobody repair invoicing.”
She continues, "As these matters are currently before the court, we cannot provide further comment."
According to CBC, Wednesday's hearing was adjourned. A decision on whether any charges will be laid against the Aviva investigators is expected to be argued in court next month.