We collect personal information only as relevant to our retainers with our clients. According to the Act, “Personal Information” means any information that identifies you or by which your identity could be deduced, but does not include business contact information (your name, title, position, business address, telephone and fax number or business email address) and does not include “publicly available information” specified in the Act’s Regulations.
The information We collect may go beyond contact information and include financial or medical information (as an example) depending on the nature of the matter under investigation.
If We do not collect and use personal information, We would not be able to provide legal services to clients. In order to provide meaningful advice to our clients, We collect information only by lawful and fair means and not in an unreasonably intrusive way. Wherever possible, We collect your personal information directly from you. At other times, Qe may obtain information about you from other sources, such as, your insurance company, your employer, or from a government agency or registry.
In most cases, We ask you for your consent to collect, use, or disclose your personal information. Usually, this request for consent will be in writing, but in appropriate circumstances, We may accept your oral consent. Sometimes, your consent may be implied through your contact with us, such s the mere fact that you have retained our office with a signed written retainer agreement to deal with a matter on your behalf. Our standard retainer confirms our client’s consent to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information in the course of our retainer.
We use your personal information to provide legal advice and services, to fulfill our own professional responsibilities, to administer our client (time and billing databases) to manage our conflict avoidance program and, occasionally, to include you in our marketing activities. If you tell us that you no longer wish to receive marketing information about our services, or about new developments in the law, we will not send any further material to you.
We do not disclose 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 others.
We will retain personal information as long as may be necessary to complete our retainer, fulfill our own professional responsibilities, conduct our business, satisfy the requirements of the Law Society of Ontario and our insurers, and as may be required for the maintenance of our marketing activities and our conflicts system.
Under certain circumstances, and/or as part of our retainer, We will disclose personal information, including:
- When We are required or authorized by law to do so
- When you have consented to the disclosure, expressly or by implication or its disclosure is necessary in the litigation or other matter about which We have been retained
- When our retainer requires us to give your information to third parties (for example to a doctor for the purpose of obtaining a medical opinion or the opposing parties) your consent will be implied, unless you tell us otherwise. However, in litigation, you may have to disclose information and the failure to do so could adversely affect any claim you have
- Where it is necessary to establish or collect fees
- If We engage a third party to provide administrative services to us (like computer backup services or archival file storage, or our auditors)
- If We engage expert witnesses on your behalf
- If We retain other law firms on your behalf
- If the information is already publicly known.
Since We use personal information to provide legal services, 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, in writing, so that We can make any necessary changes. If We hold information about you, and you can establish that it is inaccurate, complete and up-to-date, We will take reasonable steps to correct it.
We take all reasonable precautions to ensure that personal information is kept safe from loss, unauthorized access, modification or disclosure. Among the steps taken to protect information are:
- Premises security
- Restricted file access to electronic personal information
- Deploying technological safeguards like password protection, security software and firewalls to prevent hacking or unauthorized computer access
- Internal password and security policies
- Procedures for the destruction of personal information when it is no longer required including shredding and the formatting of electronic media.
You are entitled to access your personal information, and may ask us for access to any personal information We hold about you. However, We may ask that We be reimbursed for the time and cost to us of such access at our normal professional and disbursement fees.
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 us or one of our clients).
- information relates to existing or anticipated legal proceedings
- when granting you access would have an unreasonable impact on other peoples’ privacy
- when to do so would prejudice negotiations
- to protect our firm’s 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.
We do not use your Social Insurance Number as a way of identifying or organizing the information we hold.
The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and our Rules of Professional conduct may require us to confirm the identity of 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 from the files of consumer reporting agencies.