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City of London

March 01, 201701 March 2017

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by the Corporate Services Committee for the City of London to discuss the hiring policy for senior staff, relying on the solicitor-client privilege exception. The municipality informed the Ombudsman that municipal solicitors were present during the closed session and provided legal advice, and that nothing else was addressed. The Ombudsman noted that some municipalities choose to waive solicitor-client privilege and provide privileged information during an investigation. The Ombudsman found that the discussion fit within the solicitor-client privilege exception.

Town of Orangeville

January 24, 201424 January 2014

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Orangeville that relied on the litigation or potential litigation exception to discuss the terms of a lease agreement. The owner of the property was present during the meeting. There was a very real likelihood of litigation if the lease negotiations failed. However, the Ombudsman found that the presence of the owner of the property that the municipality was seeking to acquire disqualified the discussion from fitting within the litigation or potential litigation exception.

Township of Ryerson

November 08, 201308 November 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Ryerson to discuss a rezoning application for a quarry. The meeting was closed under the exception for solicitor-client privilege. The applicant was present during the closed session and reviewed with council the details related to a proposed haul route and site plan. The municipality’s solicitor wrote the cover letter that accompanied the site plan documents. The letter set out the solicitor’s position on the draft terms. The Ombudsman found that the presence of the applicant during the meeting constitutes a waiver of any solicitor-client privilege that might have applied to the discussion. Further, the solicitor’s letter contained comments directed at the third party, not legal advice to the municipality. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of South Bruce Peninsula

June 10, 201310 June 2013

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of South Bruce Peninsula that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a by-law with the municipality’s solicitor. When council returned to the open session, it passed a resolution to waive solicitor-client privilege and release two legal opinions on the matter. The Ombudsman found that despite the fact that council decided to waive privilege in open session, at the time of the closed session discussion council had sought legal advice that was intended to be confidential. Therefore, the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Town of Amherstburg

July 20, 201220 July 2012

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Town of Amherstburg to discuss a report issued by the Ombudsman, relying on the exception for solicitor-client privilege. Council considered written legal advice from the municipality’s solicitor who was also present during the closed session. The written legal advice had been publicly posted on the municipality’s website in error. The Ombudsman found that in many cases, public disclosure of confidential information is a factor weighing in favour of discussing the information in the open. In this case, the Ombudsman found that the information posted to the municipality’s website was done so in error and was intended to remain confidential. Council did not waive its solicitor-client privilege. Therefore, the discussion fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.

Township of Adelaide-Metcalfe

May 23, 201223 May 2012

The Ombudsman reviewed a closed meeting held by council for the Township of Adelaide-Metcalfe that relied on the exception for solicitor-client privilege to discuss a site plan agreement and cost-sharing proposal from a local developer. The developer’s representatives were present during the closed session. The Ombudsman found that solicitor-client privilege applies to communications between a lawyer and client that entails the seeking or giving of legal advice and is intended to be confidential by the parties. In order to qualify for the exception, the privilege must not be waived by the municipality. The Ombudsman found that the presence of third parties at the closed session constituted a waiver of the solicitor-client privilege. Therefore, the discussion did not fit within the exception for solicitor-client privilege.