All barristers and solicitors are governed by the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Rules of Professional Conduct (the “Rules”). The Rules mandate a professional obligation to keep confidential all information we receive within a lawyer-client relationship. AC Law is committed to protecting any personal information we hold, including any third party information that we may come across through our clients in the normal course of our business dealings.
CLIENTS’ PRIVACY RIGHTSCurrently, all businesses engaged in commercial activities – including law firms – must be in compliance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”), as well as the Canadian Standards Association Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information, which it incorporates. PIPEDA gives our clients certain rights concerning the privacy of their personal information.
AC Law must execute a Non-Disclosure and Confidentiality Agreement prior to the commencement of their employment at AC Law.
WHY AC LAW NEEDS PERSONAL INFORMATIONAC Law is engaged in the practice of legal services. The overwhelming majority of our clientele is financial institutions. In order to effectively engage in performing our services, from time to time it is often necessary to collect personal information about third parties which our clients hold. Personal information is any information that identifies our client or their clients, or by which our clients’ identity or our clients’ clients’ identities could be deduced or surmised. If we did not collect and/or use this personal information, we could not effectively provide our clients with legal services.
HOW AC LAW COLLECTS PERSONAL INFORMATIONPersonal information is almost invariably collected directly from our clients, on consent (either written, orally or implied) who provide us with their clients’ information. Thus, the collection of personal information is only collected via lawful and fair means and not in an unreasonable manner. Wherever possible, we collect any personal information directly from our clients, at the commencement of our engagement of a file or matter, and from time to time in the course of our representation of our clients.
Occasionally, we collect personal information through other sources. The following is a non-exhaustive list of sources of personal information:
- Insurance companies (including, but not limited to, title insurance companies);
- Real Estate agents / brokers, in the course of a real estate transaction;
- Government agencies or entities, including registry offices; and
- Credit Bureaus (only when authorized to do so, or if provided to us by clients).
HOW AC LAW USES PERSONAL INFORMATIONPersonal information is only used for the specific purpose for which consent was granted. For greater clarity, it is only used in circumstances in which we are engaged on a particular matter requiring the use of such personal information. It is not stored or “banked” in a data base, other than the hard copy file itself or appurtenant electronic file which we store in our file management system.
At absolutely no time does AC Law disclose, sell, license, give away or share any personal information obtained from or through our clients, to any person or entity whatsoever, subject only to limited circumstances, as more particularly described below.
WHEN PERSONAL INFORMATION IS DISCLOSEDUnder specific and limited circumstances, AC Law will disclose our clients’ personal information, namely:
- To the Lawyers’ Professional Indemnity Company (LawPRO), as required;
- When required by law to do so (e.g. subpoenaed documents, court orders compelling production of documents as evidence, etc.);
- When our clients have consented to the disclosure of certain information;
- When the nature and circumstances of the legal services we are providing on our clients’ behalf require us to do so (e.g. in a real estate transaction);
- When necessary to collect fees;
- When third parties are engaged to provide administrative services to us (e.g. computer and other I.T. related matters, file storage, etc.). At all times the third party service provider is subject to our Non-Disclosure and Privacy policies.
- If it is necessary to engage an expert witness on our clients’ behalf;
- If it is necessary to retain the services of a third party law firm in other jurisdictions to provide services for our clients;
- If the information is already in the public domain, common knowledge, or provided for public use by our clients.
UPDATING PERSONAL INFORMATIONSince our clients’ personal information, as well as their clients’ personal information, may change throughout the course of our engagement, it is important that the information provided to us be accurate and current. If, during the course of the retainer, any of our clients’ information, or their clients’ information, changes, and those changes are necessary in order for AC Law to proceed with the services for which we were retained, we ask our clients to apprise us so that we may update the subject personal information.
SECURITY OF PERSONAL INFORMATIONAC Law takes all reasonable steps to ensure the privacy of our clients’ information, including their clients’ information, as the case may be. Steps have been taken to mitigate chances of loss, unauthorized access, modification or improper disclosure of documentation. Some of these steps include, but are not limited to:
- Premises security;
- Deploying technological safeguards like security software and firewalls to prevent hacking or unauthorized computer access;
- Security encoded computer terminal access;
- Internal password and security policies; and
- Secure file storage under lock and key.
ACCESS TO PERSONAL INFORMATIONAt any time, our clients reserve the right to inquire about access to any personal information we may be holding about them or their clients. Summary information is available, upon request. More detailed requests which require archive retrieval or other retrieval costs may be subject to our normal professional and disbursement fees.
CAN OUR CLIENTS BE DENIED ACCESS TO PERSONAL INFORMATION?Denial of access of personal information may be necessary, in certain circumstances. Not all of our clients’ employees have access to information that we hold. Our clients provide us with a list of their approved personnel to whom access to information may be granted and it is our expectation that that list will be updated by our clients as necessary.
Additionally, the following non-exhaustive circumstances may also be reasons why we may deny access:
- Information relates to existing or anticipated legal proceedings, and when it is necessary, in those circumstances, to withhold certain information;
- When under court order, access is not permitted;
- To protect our firm’s rights and property;
- To protect our other clients’ information and documentation; and
- Where the request is frivolous or vexatious in nature.
CREDIT BUREAUSOften, the nature of our work requires access to Credit Bureaus on our clients’ clients. Our clients usually provide us with copies of such Credit Bureaus. This enables AC Law to make decisions regarding engaging in further legal work for our clients, cross-reference information about debtors, help us locate debtors, etc.
COMMUNICATIONS WITH AC LAWAlthough email communication is fast, direct and usually safe, and although AC Law takes all reasonable precautions against internet and email tampering, email communications cannot be guaranteed by AC Law. Any information sent to us by our clients via email or through our Website is subject to this caveat.
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