What is Personal Information? Personal information includes any information about an identifiable individual. It is not usually information such as the name, title, business address, or telephone number of an employee of an organization.
Your Privacy Rights - All businesses engaged in commercial activities must comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act ("PIPEDA"). These obligations extend to lawyers and law firms, including FR. PIPEDA gives you rights concerning the privacy of your personal information.
FR is responsible for the personal information we collect and hold. To ensure this accountability, we have developed policies and procedures with the objective of protecting personal information, and have trained our lawyers and support staff about our policies and practices.
Why does FR need personal information? FR collects, uses and discloses personal information in the course of providing legal services to our clients. Specifically, some of the purposes are:
- to manage our client relationships, including performing conflict checks and credit checks, if necessary, on prospective clients
- to provide legal services in the course of legal proceedings, such as during litigation, mediation and arbitration proceedings. This may mean that personal information is disclosed to any involved third party, such as courts, other lawyers, judicial decision makers, witnesses, and more
- to provide legal services in the course of business transactions, where the personal information is disclosed to other parties involved in the transfer, mortgage, sale, amalgamation, etc.
- to evaluate client satisfaction through communication with clients and other individuals
- to comply with legal requirements which mandate the release of personal information
- to maintain our document system, precedent files, and memorandum bank
- to protect our clients by checking for internal error, fraud, theft, etc., as needed or as required
- to distribute direct marketing materials concerning our services, developments in the law, and other firm matters. If you tell us that you do not wish to continue receiving information about our services, or about new developments in the law, we will not send you any further material.
What personal information do we collect? We collect personal information such as your name, address, telephone number, billing and account information and any information that is necessary and related to the legal services we are providing you with. This could range from contract documents to information about your business practices to information about your family members who are beneficiaries under your will.
How do we collect your personal information? 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 the start of a retainer and in the course of our representation.
Sometimes we may obtain information about you from other sources. For example, we may obtain information from:
- 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 its request
- your accountant
- your bank.
Consent - 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. Sometimes, your consent may be implied through your conduct with us.
Disclosure of your Personal Information - FR does 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 law firms or organizations. Under certain circumstances, FR will 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
- where it is necessary to establish or collect fees
- if we engage expert witnesses on your behalf
- if we retain other law firms in other jurisdictions, on your behalf
- if the information is already publicly known.
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.
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 to our records.
Is My Personal Information Secure? FR takes 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 access to files that contain 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 our normal professional and disbursement fees.
Correcting Errors - If FR holds information about you and you advise us that it is not accurate, complete and up-to-date, FR 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
- information relates to existing or anticipated legal proceedings against you
- granting you access would have an unreasonable impact on other people's privacy
- protecting our firm's rights and property
- the request is frivolous or vexatious.
If we deny your request for access to your personal information, or refuse a request to correct information, we shall explain why. FR does not use your Social Insurance Number as a way of identifying or organizing the information we hold about you.
Credit Bureaus - 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 100% 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 write to our Privacy Contact:
If you are not satisfied with our response, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada can be reached at:
112 Kent Street
Place du Ville Tower, 3rd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1H3
Employment Inquiries - If you apply to FR 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. This is done in order to optimise our web service. We may provide aggregated information to third parties, but these statistics do not include any identifiable personal information.