From January 1, 2004, all organizations engaged in commercial activities in Canada, except organizations which are subject to substantially similar provincial legislation, must comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (the “Act”). The Act regulates the collection, use and disclosure of “personal information” as that term is defined in the Act. The Act incorporates the Canadian Standards Association Model Code for the protection of personal information.
What is Personal Information?
“Personal information” is information that identifies a specific individual or information which would enable an individual's identity to be deduced. Personal information under the Act includes such information as a home address or telephone number. Personal information does not include the name, position, title, business address or business telephone number of an employee of an organization. Also excluded from the definition of personal information is certain information which is publicly available, such as information included in a public directory.
Collection of Personal Information
We collect personal information in order to provide legal services to our clients. We also collect personal information so that we may bill our clients for legal services rendered, to provide information to our clients regarding matters of interest in our areas of expertise such as recent developments in the law and to advise our clients of any upcoming firm events. Since we only collect personal information which you would reasonably expect us to require in connection with our legal services, we only ask for written consent to use your personal information in unusual circumstances, for example, if the personal information is required for a purpose other than the legal services which you have retained us to provide. We may collect personal information directly from you at the commencement of our retainer and during the course of our representation of you. We may also obtain personal information about you from other sources, such as from:
- an insurance company;
- a real estate agent in a property transaction;
- a witness in a litigation matter;
- a government agency or registry;
- your employer, if we are acting for you at your employer's request;
- your accountant and other consultants to you.
Use of Personal Information
We only collect and use personal information from individuals or organizations for the purpose of providing our legal services to them, to render accounts, carry out conflict searches and to provide services or information to our clients. We will usually retain personal information about you even after the completion of our retainer in the event that we act for you again in the future and to ensure that we adequately maintain our conflicts data base. If you do not wish to receive any information or mailings from us which are not specifically related to our retainer, upon such written request we will remove you from our mailing list. We do not sell, exchange or otherwise disclose personal information to third parties to enable them to market their products and services without first obtaining express consent from you. However, in certain circumstances, we may be required to disclose your personal information.
We may disclose your personal information without your express consent in the following circumstances:
- If we are required or authorized by law to do so, such as upon the issuance of a subpoena by a Court;
- If you have specifically consented to the disclosure;
- If the legal services you have retained us to provide require us to provide your information to a third party (such as a lender in a real estate mortgage transaction);
- If we retain agents, such as law firms in other jurisdictions, in connection with the legal services we are providing to you.
Protecting your Personal Information
We take all reasonable precautions to ensure that your personal information is kept safe from loss or theft, unauthorized access, copying, modification or disclosure. Among the steps taken are:
- premises security;
- restricting access to personal information;
- technological safeguards such as firewalls to prevent unauthorized access to our computer data base;
- restricting entry to our computer data base through restricted use passwords;
- internal password and security policies;
Obtaining access to your Personal Information
If you wish to obtain access to personal information we may have about you, please contact our Privacy Officer in the manner provided for below. We will provide you with access to your personal information in accordance with the Act. However, we may deny you access to your personal information in certain circumstances such as the following:
- If such information is related to existing or possible legal proceedings against you;
- If we are authorized or empowered to deny access to such personal information to you by any applicable law or Order of a Court;
- If the request is frivolous or vexatious.
If your request for access to your personal information is denied, we shall explain why. If any of your personal information is incorrect, we will correct such information to ensure that same is accurate. However, personal information which is stored for historical or archival reasons will not be updated.
GRANT B. MOFFAT
Thornton Grout Finnigan LLP
Suite 3200, Canadian Pacific Tower
100 Wellington St. West
P.O. Box 329
Toronto, ON M5K 1K7
In circumstances in which it is legal and practical to do so, we may consider dealing with inquiries regarding personal information on an anonymous basis and without the need for disclosure of any personal information.