In a union meeting 'legal counsel' gave a long presentation. It included a slide show. The meeting was held over a video call. The legal counsel said he does not give consent or permission to be recorded and that slides cannot be copied. I'm not sure if it was for a legal reason or administrative one but meeting minutes were not recorded (some people were very upset by this).

My questions are

  1. Is it illegal to take notes of what a lawyer (or anyone else) is saying if they say that you can't? I think there might have been some confusion, just because no one was taking official minutes doesn't mean that people can't write their own notes.
  2. Is it illegal to record a meeting without consent or knowledge of the people involved? The lawyer said it's his firms policy and that the information could be detrimental to the union if it got into the wrong hands.
  3. Is it illegal to screen shot or photograph a slide from a presentation if the presenter said you can't?

1 Answer 1


Canadian Criminal Code § 181 ff makes it illegal to "intercept" a private communication:

184 (1) Every person who, by means of any electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other device, knowingly intercepts a private communication is guilty of (a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years; or (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.


183.1 Where a private communication is originated by more than one person or is intended by the originator thereof to be received by more than one person, a consent to the interception thereof by any one of those persons is sufficient consent for the purposes of any provision of this Part

Moreover, "intercept"

includes listen to, record or acquire a communication or acquire the substance, meaning or purport thereof;

So it's not even legal for you or anyone else to listen to this call without consent. Obviously to have consent to listen to the communication. As a party to the communication, you can give consent to yourself to record the communication. So it's not based on the law about secret recordings.

This does not preclude the possibility that there is a contractual basis for the lawyer's assertion, for example the firm's contract with the union might stipulate that you cannot record any communication with a member. There is no basis for the lawyer taking legal action against you, but he could take action against the union, or the union could take action against you (especially because of his action against the union). In that case, the question of whether it is "legal" depends on what you mean by "is it legal". It could be in violation of the terms of the contract, which is a standard sense in which an act is "not legal".

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