Version 1.1. Last updated: November 28, 2010.
Your Privacy Rights
From January 1, 2004, all businesses engaged in commercial activities must comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and the Canadian Standards Association Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information, which it incorporates. Other laws and regulations may also apply. These obligations extend to lawyers and law firms, including us. The Act gives you rights concerning the privacy of your personal information.
We are responsible for the personal information we collect and hold. To ensure this accountability, we have developed this policy.
What personal information do we collect?
Personal information is any information that identifies you, or by which your identity could be deduced. If we did not collect and use your personal information we could not provide you with legal services. In general, personal information does not include business contact information, including your name, title or position, business address, telephone or facsimile number. We treat any e-mail address you provide as personal information. We do not use your Social Insurance Number as a way of identifying or organizing the information we hold upon you.
How do we collect your personal information?
We collect information only by lawful means and not in an unreasonably intrusive way. Wherever possible we collect your personal information directly from you at the start of a retainer and in the course of our representation. Sometimes we may obtain information about you from other public sources, or from private sources, at your request.
In most cases, we shall ask you to specifically consent, if we collect, use, or disclose your personal information. Normally, we ask for your consent in writing, but in some circumstances we may accept your oral consent. We assume that you have consented to our reasonable collection and use of personal information consistent with the purposes for which the information was given, when you initiate contact with us or voluntarily provide personal information to us. We also assume that clients who retain us, or individuals involved in proceedings or matters opposite or adverse to our clients, consent to the reasonable collection, use and disclosure of their personal information by us and our agents for purposes of our representation or provision of legal advice to our clients and the conduct of the transactions or proceedings involving our clients.
Use of Your Information
We use your personal information to provide legal advice and services to you, to administer our account for you (such as time and billing databases) and to include you in any direct marketing activities we undertake. If you tell us that you no longer wish to receive information about our services, or about new developments in the law, we will not send any further material.
We do not disclose your personal information to any third party to enable them to market their products and services. For example, we do not provide our client mailing lists to other lawyers.
Disclosure of your Personal Information
Under certain circumstances, we will disclose your personal information:
– when we are required or authorized by law to do so, for example if a court issues subpoena;
– when you have consented to the disclosure;
– when the legal services we are providing to you require us to give your information to third parties your consent will be implied, unless you tell us otherwise;
– where it is necessary to establish or collect fees;
– if we engage a third party to provide services to us (like archival file storage or online invoicing) related to your account;
– if we retain other law firms, on your behalf;
– if the information is already publicly known.
Updating Your Information
Since we use your personal information to provide legal services to you, it is important that the information be accurate and up-to-date. If during the course of the retainer, any of your information changes, please inform us so that we can make any necessary changes.
Is My Personal Information Secure?
We take all reasonable precautions to ensure that your personal information is kept safe from loss, unauthorized access, modification or disclosure. Among the steps taken to protect your information are:
– premises security;
– restricted file access to personal information;
– deploying technological safeguards like security software and firewalls to prevent hacking or unauthorized computer access;
– internal password and security policies.
Access to Your Personal Information
You may ask for access to any personal information we hold about you. Summary information is available on request. More detailed requests which require archive or other retrieval costs may be subject to normal professional and disbursement fees.
If we hold information about you and you establish that it is not accurate, complete and up-to-date, we will take reasonable steps to correct it.
Can I be Denied Access to My Personal Information?
Your rights to access your personal information are not absolute. We may deny access when:
– denial of access is required or authorized by law (for example, when a record containing personal information about you is subject to a claim of legal professional privilege by one of our clients);
– information relates to existing or anticipated legal proceedings against you;
– when granting you access would have an unreasonable impact on other people’s privacy;
– when to do so would prejudice negotiations with you;
– to protect our rights and property;
– where the request is frivolous or vexatious.
If we deny your request for access to, or refuse a request to correct information, we shall explain why.
Can I request anonymity?
Whenever it is legal and practicable, we may offer the opportunity to deal with general inquiries without providing your name (for example, by accessing general information on this website). The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act requires us to confirm the identity of all new clients. It may also require us to disclose information to FINTRAC in relation to certain large cash transactions.
To help us make credit decisions about clients, prevent fraud, check the identity of new clients and prevent money-laundering, we may on occasion request information about you from the files of consumer reporting agencies.
Communicating with Us
You should be aware that e-mail is not a fully secure medium, and you should be aware of this when contacting us to send personal or confidential information.
Requests for Access
If you have any questions, or wish to access your personal information, please contact us here. If you are not satisfied with our response, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada can be reached at 112 Kent Street, Ottawa Ontario, K1A 1H3, 1.800.282.1376.
If you apply to us for a job, we need to consider your personal information as part of my review process. We normally retain information from candidates after a decision has been made, unless you ask me not to retain the information. If we offer you a job, which you accept, the information will be retained in accordance with my privacy procedures for employee records.