This is inspired by recent events, but I will not be naming names.

My understanding of section 184 is that people in Canada are allowed to intercept communications by any means provided that they themselves were involved in the communications (they don’t need the consent of others) and that the communications either show evidence and important information relating to the breaching Canadian law or show evidence/information of the intent to breach Canadian law. (But some sources don’t say the part about showing evidence and information, so I could be wrong.)

Person A is a person in Canada. Person B is a person in the UK (as I understand it, recording without consent of others is usually illegal in the UK).

If Person A records online communications secretly between themselves and Person B and Person B never consents to it, provided that Person A believes that their rights have been violated by a company that they are both in (so Person A also has reasons not to trust anyone in the company completely) or Person A believes that the company they are both in is conducting unethical acts, would Person A have to face legal consequences? (By “legal consequences,” I mean anything from getting charged/sentenced with crimes (or even extradition) to civil lawsuits/judgements.)

1 Answer 1


Section 184 of the Canadian Criminal Code and Foreign Actors

As a general rule, Canadian law cannot shield you from being subject to laws of another sovereign country; but

  • the ability of the foreign country to enforce its laws in Canada is limited: it is against the international norm and considered an infringement of Canadian sovereignty to take enforcement actions without consent of Canada;
  • the foreign country's law may provide a defence if the action in question is required or allowed by another country's law: here the defence ultimately is provided by the foreign law, not the Canadian law, even though the foreign law refers to the laws of other countries.

(as I understand it, recording without consent of others is usually illegal in the UK).

Recording a conversation by an involved party is generally not illegal in the UK, although sharing or usage of such recording for certain purposes can be illegal.

Let's say you did record a conversation with someone in an all-party consent jurisdiction (say, Atlantis) though:

would Person A have to face legal consequences?

They could face legal consequences in Atlantis, as the laws of Atlantis may provide criminally and civilly.

The legal consequences may or may not have an important effect on you. Even if Canada does not enforce a foreign judgement or accept a request for judicial assistance, the foreign authority is sovereign in their own jurisdiction, just like Canadian government is in Canada. For example, if you receive an income from a source in Atlantis, Atlantis could order the source to stop sending you any money or intercept the transfer.

believes that the company they are both in is conducting unethical acts

Atlantis law may or may not provide for protection for whistleblowers and who qualifies as a whistleblower.

(or even extradition)

Canada, like most countries, requires double criminality for extradition. That is, Canada will only extradite a person to a foreign country if the action in question is an offence both in Canada and in the foreign country. So you cannot be extradited from Canada if you do not violate Canadian law.

This does not apply, of course, if you travel outside Canada.

civil lawsuits/judgements.

Canadian courts is likely to refrain from enforcing a civil judgement resulting from one-party consent recording alone for public policy reasons. In particular, it is unlikely that non-penal damages would result from the action of recording alone. The sharing of the recording to third parties or other usages can complicate the situation.

The Criminal Code simply does not make recording a conversation in which you are involved a criminal offence, it does not shield you from civil liabilities, even in Canada.

  • As an extension, let’s say that the foreign country charges Person A for breaking the law against Person B. If the act was done in Canada and Person A is still in Canada, can I construe your response to mean that Person A cannot be held criminally responsible (if they do not have any substantial relationship with the country), and Person B can only really attempt a civil lawsuit which is likely to be discarded? Commented Feb 13 at 19:03
  • *specifically if they do not have a substantial relationship with Person B’s country, apologies for the ambiguity Commented Feb 13 at 19:49
  • @LegalNonExpert The bottom line is a country other than Canada can have whatever laws it wants to have, just like Canada can have whatever laws on its own books. The limit of the effects of its claimed jurisdiction is only set by the strength of a country's forces (armed or otherwise) and its respect or defiance regarding international norms and laws.
    – xngtng
    Commented Feb 13 at 20:27
  • @LegalNonExpert Canadian authorities will not criminally extradite a person physically in Canada to another country for an action that is not an offence in Canada. This is the guarantee of Canadian law in Canada (over its effectively controlled territories). Canada cannot prevent another country from criminally prosecuting someone in Canada, unless it's willing to use armed forces against that other country for this (and able to win).
    – xngtng
    Commented Feb 13 at 20:32
  • @LegalNonExpert China for example can prosecute, in a Chinese court, a person in Canada for saying things it thinks to be "harmful to its national security", despite the speech being constitutionally protected in Canada. As long as Canadian law is effective (e.g. China didn't invade Canada), Canada will not extradite you to China nor would it enforce a Chinese judgment against you since it offends Canadian public policy. But if you enter a Chinese territory or a country with extradition treaty with China (and such treaty does not preclude such political offences), you can be in trouble.
    – xngtng
    Commented Feb 13 at 20:39

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