Our obligations in respect to the privacy of your personal information are governed by our Rules of Professional Conduct administered by our governing body, the Law Society of Ontario, and by the Personal Information and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
Personal information includes information that identifies an individual and information about an individual. We collect personal identifying information in our responsibilities to identify our clients and others that we deal with in the practice of law. We collect information about individuals as a factual foundation for sound legal advice. We collect personal information from our clients directly and from and about other individuals as participants in our clients’ legal affairs.
We may also collect personal information related to the access to and uses made of our social media and website or as a result of communication to us that is not part of our practice of law.
In respect to personal information collected in the practice of law, our Rules of Professional Conduct require that we treat client information and client communications as privileged. This is a higher and stronger standard than the confidentiality of other professionals. The information we receive from clients cannot be shared by us without your authority and, subject to some particular exceptions in respect to criminal communication, we cannot be compelled to provide your information by subpoena or other legal compulsion. We treat this professional obligation very seriously.
We take steps to protect your information:
- We communicate your information only when we are authorized to do so, and only by direct mail, reliable courier services, direct fax or email. We do not disseminate your information in a manner generally available to the public or easily obtained by anybody who is not authorized to receive it.
- We take steps to store your information safe from intrusion or retrieval. We use a private pass-word protected server system for our computing. We store our physical files on site in our locked office and off-site in reliable, bonded storage facilities and services.
- We take steps to prevent ‘hacking’ into our computer and telephone systems with password protection, individualized communication, encryption and digitization when warranted, requested and available.
- When we access allied professionals such as accountants, experts and so on, we require that they treat any information we share with the same level of confidentiality that is required of us.
- We train our staff in respect to the collection and protection of personal information.
- We retain personal information in a safe and secure manner for the purpose of providing ongoing services and to satisfy our professional obligations. We store files while in use in our office either under our supervision or locked. We store information after the provision of legal services for a limited period of time which is usually 15 years, whereupon, with some exceptions (such as wills and agreements) we attend to the safe and complete destruction of that information by shredding.
Regarding information that is collected outside of the practice of law, such as in respect to website or social media access or as communicated to us under other circumstances, we take similar efforts to protect its confidentiality. However, while such information may be subject to privacy protection, it may not be subject to the protection of solicitor-client privilege.
While we take every reasonable precaution to protect personal information, any individual should take into consideration the following risks:
- In your sharing personal information with us we assume that you have consented to our collection of that information.
- Inherent in your instructions and insofar as necessary to conduct the work you instruct us to do, subject to the precautions described above, we may share some limited amount of your personal information with third parties and we assume, unless you inform us otherwise, that you consent to this limited sharing of your personal information further to your instructions.
- Despite the efforts we undertake to protect your information, there is an inherent risk of broader dissemination in publishing any personal information to any person, including the members of this firm. Technology and protective measures have an inherent level of fallibility and we do not assume responsibility for these unforeseen breaches.
- We make reasonable efforts to keep personal information up-to-date, current, accurate and complete. However, we assume that you are responsible for providing us updates and corrections to the personal information we have collected and we otherwise assume that the personal information we have remains complete and accurate.
In most circumstances, you are entitled to review the personal information of yours that we have collected. You are entitled make inquiries and to know of the existence, extent, use and disclosure of your personal information. You may wish to inform us of corrections or updates to your personal information. If you wish to make an inquiry or contact us in respect to the personal information of yours we have collected, please contact J. Thomas Hamer who acts in our firm as Privacy Compliance Officer. We will make our best efforts to respond to your inquiry within 30 days and will inform you if, for any reason, we are unable to do so. J. Thomas Hamer can be reached at:
Ecclestone, Hamer, Poisson, Neuwald & Freeman, Barristers and Solicitors
900-372 Bay Street, Toronto, Ontario M5H 2W9
416-365-7135 (extension 23)