The Supreme Court of British Columbia highlights the importance of solicitor-client privilege in De Cotiis Estate. The lawyer representing one of the estate’s beneficiaries, made numerous references to privileged documents in various court documents. The deceased’s former lawyer and executor brought an application to prevent the deceased’s son from continuing to use privileged documents in the ongoing estate dispute. Furthermore, the deceased’s lawyer demanded that the son return all privileged documents in his possession, given that he had taken them from the deceased’s home. Justice Majawa applied the test in Celanese Canada Inc. v. Murray Demolition Corp. where the SCC listed six factors courts should consider when determining if a lawyer should be disqualified from acting in a matter. The factors are as follows:
  1. How the documents came into the possession of the litigant or its counsel?
  2. What did the litigant and their counsel do upon recognition that the documents were potentially subject to client-solicitor privilege?
  3. The extent of the review of the privileged material.
  4. The contents of the solicitor-client communications and the degree to which they are prejudicial.
  5. The stage of the litigation process.
  6. The potential effectiveness of a firewall or other precautionary steps to avoid mischief.
This court was satisfied that the only appropriate remedy was to disqualify the lawyer as the deceased’s son’s counsel. Given the unauthorized use of privileged documents and information, the deceased’s lawyer requested that the son’s lawyer and entire firm no longer be permitted to act in the ongoing estate dispute. To prevent ongoing and further harm, it was requested from the court that there be “… a sealing order in respect of affidavits and pleadings that include or refer to the Privileged Documents.” The court granted the application entirely. Commenting on the situation, the court wrote,
“For the reasons that follow, I have decided that Mr. Mason’s application should be granted in its entirety. Mr. Barker’s conduct with respect to the Privileged Documents is egregious. Mr. Barker and the Law Firm will be disqualified from acting for or advising anyone in respect of the estate of the Deceased.”
  This was co-authored by summer law student Barbara Attia.