Your Privacy Rights
From January 1, 2004 , all organizations engaged in commercial activities must comply with the *Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act* (the “Act”), unless the federal cabinet has exempted the organization because it is subject to “substantially similar” provincial legislation. To date, lawyers and law firms in Ontario are not subject to any such exemption orders. Therefore, these obligations extend to lawyers and law firms, including D&L. Although, as lawyers, we have always been obligated by the Law Society of Ontario’s *Rules of Professional Conduct* to maintain the confidentiality of client information, the Act gives you additional rights concerning the privacy of your personal information.
D&L is responsible for the personal information we collect, use, maintain and disclose. To ensure this accountability, we have developed this policy for implementation by all lawyers and staff.
What is “Personal Information?”
Personal information is any information about you, or by which your identity could be deduced. It does not include the name or business address or telephone number of an employee of an organization.
Why Do We Collect Personal Information from You?
We collect personal information from you to:
- provide legal services to you, in accordance with your instructions;
- bill you for legal services rendered;
- provide information to you about developments in the law; and
- advise you of developments in the firm.
How Do We Collect Your Personal Information?
We collect information by lawful means only. We may collect personal information directly from you at the start of a retainer or during the course of our retainer.
Sometimes we may also obtain information about you from other sources, for example:
- your insurance company;
- your real estate agent in a property transaction;
- a government agency or registry;
- your employer, if we are acting for you at your employer’s request;
- your accountant; or
- other consultants or individuals obtained by you or with your consent to assist with your legal concerns.
Consent for the collection, use and/or disclosure of personal information may be obtained orally or in writing and may be expressly given or implied. In determining how we obtain your consent, we will take into account the sensitivity of the personal information that we are collecting, using and/or disclosing.
Use of Your Information
We use your personal information to provide legal advice and services to you, including for billing purposes. We may also use your personal information to include you in any direct marketing activities. We will assume that you have consented to such use unless you specifically advise otherwise. 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.
D&L will not disclose your personal information to any third party to enable them to market their products and services without first obtaining express consent from you. For example, we do not provide our client mailing lists to other law firms or to consultants we work with from time to time.
Disclosure of Your Personal Information
Under certain circumstances, D&L may disclose your personal information:
- when we are required or authorized by law to do so; for example, if a court issues a subpoena;
- when you have consented to the disclosure;
- when the legal services we are providing to you require us to give your information to a third party (for example, to a lender in a real estate mortgage transaction) your consent will be implied, unless you tell us otherwise;
- where it is necessary to collect fees;
- if we engage expert witnesses on your behalf or interview potential witnesses in connection with your case;
- if we retain other law firms in other jurisdictions, on your behalf; or
- if the information is already publicly available.
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 our retainer, any of your information changes, please inform us so that we can make any necessary changes.
Is Your Personal Information Secure?
D&L takes all reasonable precautions to ensure that your personal information is kept safe from loss, unauthorized access, modification or disclosure. The steps taken to protect your information include:
- office security;
- restriction of access to electronically stored personal information;
- deployment of technological safeguards like security software and firewalls to prevent hacking or unauthorized computer access;
- internal password and security policies;
- obligation of each lawyer to maintain client confidentiality under the Rules of Professional Conduct of the Law Society of Ontario;
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 that require archival or other retrieval costs may be subject to our normal professional and disbursement fees.
If D&L holds information about you which is not accurate, complete and up-to-date, D&L will take reasonable steps to correct it.
Can you be Denied Access to Your 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 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 will explain why. D&L does not use your Social Insurance Number as a way of identifying or organizing the information we hold about you.
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.
How Long Do We Keep Your Personal Information?
We keep your personal information as long as is reasonably necessary for us to complete our dealings with you, or as may be required or necessitated by law, whichever is longer.
Although the Act does not apply to our employee information, we have elected to follow privacy “best practices” in this area. If you apply to D&L for a job, we need to consider your personal information, as part of our review process. We normally retain information from candidates after a decision has been made, unless you ask us not to retain the information. If we offer you a job which you accept, the information will be retained in accordance with our privacy procedures for employee records.
On our website, like most other commercial websites, we may monitor traffic patterns, site usage and related site information in order to optimize our web service. We may provide aggregated information to third parties, but these statistics do not include any identifiable personal information.
Communicating with Us
You should be aware that email is not a 100% secure medium, and you should be aware of this when contacting us to send personal or confidential information.
Request for Access
If you have any questions, or wish to access your personal information, please write to us, c/o our Privacy Officer.
Inquiries / Complaints
If you have any questions or concerns about how your personal information has, is or will be handled by D&L or if you would like to register a complaint, please contact our Privacy Officer at:
181 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, M5H 3M7
For further information regarding the Act, please contact:
Privacy Commissioner of Canada
112 Kent Street
Ottawa , Ontario , K1A 1H3
Tel: (613) 995-8210
Toll Free: 1-800-282-1376
Fax: (613) 947-6850