WPH Law collects, uses and discloses personal information about our clients and others in the course of providing legal services to our clients and conducting related commercial activities. As legal professionals, we are obligated to maintain solicitor-client privilege and are governed by Rules of Professional Conduct as prescribed by our Law Society. We are also subject to the federal Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, R.S.C. 2000, c.5, (“PIPEDA”). This Privacy Statement is prepared in accordance with current privacy principles set forth in PIPEDA and reflects our commitment to maintaining the legal and ethical standards required of us under the Rules of Professional Conduct of the Law Societies to which we belong.
Under PIPIDA, “personal information” means information about an identifiable individual, but it does not apply to the name, title, business address or telephone number of an employee of an organization. It also does not include business information. References to “clients” in this Privacy Statement means, not only our current clients, and also former clients and prospective clients.
Collection of Personal Information
When we are retained to act on behalf of a client, we collect personal information about the client and, in some situations, about others on behalf of, and as instructed by, our client in connection with our retainer to provide legal services. We only collect personal information by lawful and fair means and limit our collection to that which is reasonably necessary for the purposes identified. In some situations, we collect email and mailing addresses from individuals who have expressed an interest in receiving our publications, newsletters and other communications.
As much as possible, we collect personal information about clients and other individuals directly from those parties or through referrals by persons whom such parties have requested to provide us with such information. In some situations, we collect information from other sources including:
· government agencies or registries
· accountants or other professional advisors
· financial institutions
· insurance companies
· credit bureaus
· other third parties that represent that they have the right to disclose such personal information
Except in limited circumstances, we obtain consent from our clients and others to collect, use and disclose their personal information. Consent may be obtained either expressly, for stated purposes, (such as in a retainer letter,) or impliedly, when the purposes are not stated expressly but are indicated by the relevant circumstances or follow logically from other expressly stated purposes, (such as a newsletter and other legal information which may be relevant to the recipient). Consent may be withdrawn or amended by contacting any of our Privacy Officers listed below, subject to any legal or contractual restrictions and upon reasonable notice to us.
Consent to our collection of certain personal information may be required in order for us to provide legal services to our clients. However, we will not require, as a condition of providing legal services, that personal information be provided which is not relevant to the provision of such services.
WPH Law only collects, uses or discloses personal information without consent in limited situations and where permitted by law. These include situations when:
· consent cannot be obtained in a timely manner and the collection, use or disclosure is required in the interest of the individual
· required by law or by court order or order of an administrative agency or governmental tribunal;
· obtaining consent would compromise an investigation of a breach of contract or law;
· required to comply with the Rules of Court in relation to the production of documents;
· the information is publicly available; and,
· it is required for WPH Law to collect a debt or pursue remedies available to it or limit any damages it may sustain.
In any situation where personal information is disclosed without consent, WPH Law will not disclose more information than what is required.
Use of Personal Information
Our collection, use, and disclosure of information is also governed by our duty of confidentiality to our clients and, as applicable, by solicitor-client privilege. The primary purpose for which we collect, use and disclose personal information is to provide legal services to our clients. Related to the provision of legal services, we may use personal information for the following purposes:
· client contact and service matters;
· for accounting and collection purposes;
· to assess new clients’ eligibility for credit;
· and, for audit and record-keeping purposes.
Disclosure of Personal Information
Our use and disclosure of information with respect to client matters is also subject to our professional obligation of confidentiality and to the requirements of solicitor-client privilege (as may be applicable in certain circumstances). Except as noted above, we only disclose personal information for purposes related to providing legal services to our clients. As much as possible, we seek express consent from our clients for disclosure of their personal information, otherwise, we only disclose personal information if required or authorized by law. For example, we may disclose personal information:
as required for providing legal services, such as to a lender in a real estate mortgage transaction;
to establish or collect fees;
· if we engage expert witnesses on behalf of a client;
· if we retain other law firms in other jurisdictions, on behalf of a client; and,
· if a court issues a subpoena.
Security of Personal Information
WPH Law uses appropriate security measures to protect against the loss, theft, unauthorized access, disclosure, use or modification of personal information. Such measures will vary depending on the sensitivity, amount, format, nature and storage of the personal information and will involve, as applicable, physical, organizational and electronic security measures, including restricted file access to personal information, technological safeguards including security software and firewalls to prevent unauthorized computer access, and passwords.
WPH Law, like many organizations, uses email to communicate with our clients and others. These email messages are not encrypted, but sent as plain text. In transmission, unencrypted email messages are susceptible to possible loss, misrouting, interception and misuse. In engaging in this practice, we believe we are striking a balance between security and convenience as many individuals and organizations do not have the ability to process encrypted email messages.
Retention of Personal Information
Personal Information is retained by WPH Law only for as long as it is required for the purpose for which it was collected and in compliance with applicable legislative requirements. This may result in us holding personal information beyond the end of our relationship with an individual, such as when it may be subsequently required to respond to issues related to the purpose for which it was collected. When information is no longer required, WPH Law implements procedures to delete, destroy or convert it into an anonymous form.
Access to Personal Information
WPH Law will respond to requests for access to personal information within the time periods prescribed by PIPEDA, currently thirty (30) days of our receipt of the request. In certain circumstances, we may be unable to provide access to some or all of the personal information that we hold about an individual, such as when the personal information cannot be separated from the records of others or is protected by professional standards relating to confidentiality or solicitor-client privilege. In particular, where WPH Law has collected personal information about a third party in the context of representing a client, access to such information may be refused on the basis of solicitor-client privilege. WPH Law will not respond to requests for access to personal information that are frivolous, vexatious or repetitious.
We do not charge to provide access, however, we may charge our standard photocopy fees if copies are requested or if the request involves significant retrieval costs. In these situations, the individual will be advised in advance of incurring such costs.
Updating and Correcting Personal Information
WPH Law will take appropriate steps to correct our records if we are advised that information we hold is not accurate, complete or up-to-date. Since we use personal information to provide legal services to our clients and communicate legal and practice-related information to others, it is important that the information be accurate and up-to-date. Therefore, we request that clients and others notify us of changes to the personal information held by us so we can amend our records accordingly.
Changes to this Privacy Statement
This Privacy Statement may be amended from time to time as part of our regular review of all of our policies and procedures to ensure compliance with legislative and technological changes.
Our website may contain links to other sites, which are not governed by this Privacy Statement. Like many 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 this does not include any identifiable personal information.