A class action lawsuit is going ahead against the South West Nova District Health Authority after it disclosed that an employee snooped through hundreds of medical files last year.

The Roseway Hospital in Shelburne said an employee, who has since been fired, inappropriately accessed the medical information of 707 patients through a work computer.

On Monday a Supreme Court judge said the case could proceed to trial.

The class action suit will determine whether the South West Nova Authority  is liable for the privacy breaches by its employee.

Lawyer Ray Wagner said he's heard from more than 100 people.

If the case succeeds, it could set the standard for similar cases in the future.

"We'll be at the crest of the wave of this new tort as it moves across this country. We'll help formulate what that means and how we'll deal with compensation in the context of a class proceeding," said Wagner.

The health authority issued an apology last year. It said it didn't involve the RCMP because it doesn't believe a criminal offence took place.

Spokesman Fraser Mooney said the authority could not comment because the case is before the courts.

The Nova Scotia Department of Health refused to comment for the same reason.