Court Orders Lawyer to Mislead Client to get Access to Facebook – Sparks v. Dubé

by John McKiggan

Defendants are becoming more and more aggressive about trying to get information from social media sites like Facebook.

In what has to be one of the most egregious invasions of privacy that I have ever seen, an insurance company in New Brunswick made an ex parte (secret) application to court requesting a judge to order a plaintiff to turn over copies of all the information contained on her social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and My Space.

The most unbelievable part of the decision is that the plaintiff’s lawyer was ordered by the judge to take part in the deception.


One of the foundations of our entire legal system is the relationship of trust and full disclosure that must exist between a client and his or her solicitor (lawyer).

Lawyers and clients have to be able to communicate truthfully and openly. Clients must be able to rely upon the lawyers advice
Consider the damage that would be caused to the solicitor-client relationship if courts are able to order plaintiff’s lawyers to deceive or mislead their clients.

But that is just what happened in Sparks v. Dubé. The court considered the trust relationship that exists between solicitors and their clients. However, ultimately the court decided that the defendant’s right to full disclosure outweighed the trust relationship between solicitor and client.

Plaintiff Appealed
Counsel for the plaintiff appealed the judge’s decision. Unfortunately, the insurance company settled the plaintiff’s case shortly before the appeal was scheduled to be heard by the New Brunswick Court of Appeal. Perhaps the insurance company was worried about what the Court of Appeal might have to say about the insurers interference in the plaintiff’s solicitor client relationship?

Facebookers Beware

I have said it before and I will say it again. Anything that you post to the Internet can, and possibly will, be used against you in future litigation.

If you are engaged in litigation or considering filing any kind of compensation claim, you would be well advised to consider what information is floating around the Internet that might damage your claim.

What Do You Think?

If you post information to a social media site should defendants have access to the information? Is anything you post to Facebook “fair ball” in litigation or are there some things that should just be kept “between friends”?

One Response to “Court Orders Lawyer to Mislead Client to get Access to Facebook – Sparks v. Dubé”

December 31, 1969 at 6:00 pm, b said:

This is a facinating issue about the use of social media (Facebook) which I see popping up in different areas of law. I recently read an article about debt collectors using FB to locate and contact the debtors friends and relatives. I believe the court in Florida banned this practice.

Comments are closed.