Client Update: Cyber-safety Act comes into effect for Nova Scotia

The Cyber-safety Act (“the Act”), excepting Part V (that part amending the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act), was proclaimed August 6, 2013 and is now in effect.

As discussed in our May 17, 2013 Client Update and our HRLaw blog The business case against workplace bullies just got stronger! the legislation has wide-ranging implications.

Briefly:

  • There is now a “cyberbullying” tort recognized in Nova Scotia that presumes vicarious liability for parents of cyberbullies under the age of 19.
  • Other forms of vicarious liability (e.g., that of an employer) are not precluded from the Act. For example, an employer might be found vicariously liable for an employee who engaged in cyberbullying in the workplace or may find itself under scrutiny of the Directors of Public Safety. Recent legal developments in Canada have expanded the workplace in cyberbullying harassment claims to include incidents occurring during non-working hours generated from non-work devices. An example of such harassment or bullying is found in our HRLaw blog What does harassment based on ethnic origin look like?

Until Part V is proclaimed, there is no legislative process for prosecution under the Act. We anticipate Part V, an amendment to the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act, that creates a specialised unit with broad powers to investigate and combat cyberbullying, will come into effect once regulations are in place to regulate that unit’s activities.

Readers will note that the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act is relatively new legislation enacted to deal with ‘bootleggers’ and ‘crackhouses’. The Act’s amendment to that legislation will provide the power to investigate and respond to allegations of cyberbullying including a provision allowing the Director to ask the court to require disclosure of anonymous bullies. We will keep an eye out for developments on Part V and will update once proclaimed.

The foregoing is intended for general information only and is not intended as legal advice. If you have any questions, visit our Labour and Employment Group or Insurance Group For more on our firm see www.stewartmckelvey.com.

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