We recognize the importance of privacy of personal information and we are committed to treating any such information which we collect, use or disclose in a responsible manner and only as reasonably necessary for our purposes.
We are responsible for all personal information in our possession or control. This would extend to information to which third parties who provide goods or services to our firm (such as our accountants, process servers, security and maintenance persons, information technology advisors, delivery persons, temporary personnel, website managers, cleaners, bankers) may have access. We restrict such access to such third parties as much as is reasonably possible and request their assurances that they follow appropriate privacy principles.
Why we collect Personal Information
The primary purposes for which we collect, use and disclose personal information is to serve our clients or potential clients, to market our services and other purposes which would be considered related or otherwise reasonable in the circumstances.
For example, we primarily collect, use and disclose personal information for the following reasons:
We also collect, use and disclose personal information for secondary purposes such as:
If we were to sell our business or to merge with another entity that other party would want to perform a due diligence investigation of our firm, including its records to ensure the accuracy of the information we have provided and the viability of the business. This would likely include our accounting and service files. Before we would permit this disclosure, we would obtain an agreement from such third party to keep all personal information confidential.
If we plan to use or disclose personal information we have collected for a purpose not previously identified, we will make a reasonable effort to specify the identified purposes, orally or in writing, to the individual from whom the personal information has been collected before use or disclosure.
Generally all personal information is held in strict confidence and we will obtain consent, either express or implied, to use or disclose personal information about an individual unless otherwise permitted or required by law.
The way in which we seek consent, including whether it is express or implied, will vary depending upon the sensitivity of the information and the reasonable expectations of the individual. Provided that we are informed of same, an individual can withdraw consent at any time, subject to legal or contractual restrictions and reasonable notice.
There are some circumstances where we are permitted or required under law to collect, use or disclose personal information without the knowledge or consent of the individual. These circumstances include: personal information which is subject to solicitor-client privilege or is publicly available as defined by the regulation; where collection or use is clearly in the interests of the individual and consent cannot be obtained in a timely way; to investigate a breach of an agreement or a contravention of a law; to act in respect to an emergency that threatens the life, health or security of an individual; for debt collection; or to comply with a subpoena, warrant or court order.
We will take appropriate steps to ensure adequate safeguards are in place to protect the personal information which we obtain.
Our safeguards include ensuring the paper information is stored in a supervised or secure location, including locked filing cabinets and restricted access to our offices and that electronic information is also secure with restricted third party access and through the use of passwords. Our staff is trained to ensure that they are aware of the sensitivity of such information and that they will collect, use and disclose personal information only as necessary to perform their duties and in accordance with this policy. Our third party contractors or agents who have access to personal information will be required to confirm that they follow appropriate privacy practices.
While we do not intend to keep personal information for longer than is reasonable, we do keep personal information for some time so that we are able to answer questions about our services and to account to regulatory authorities. Normally we close client files after a matter is completed and no further services anticipated and thereafter the file is generally destroyed after seven (7) years. Our client contact information and directories are kept longer unless you advise us that you wish to have the same removed. Our accounting and financial files are normally kept for a minimum of seven (7) years.
We destroy paper files with personal information by shredding or discarding same in garbage receptacles; we destroy electronic information by deleting it. We may also send or return the personal information to our client.
Openness and Access
With some exceptions, we will give you access to the personal information we retain about you upon request. We will need to confirm your identity before providing such access. We ask that you provide any request or identify any problem relating to such personal information in writing. We will respond within 30 days with the information requested or if this is not possible we will advise you of the reason. Much of the personal information we collect is protected by solicitor-client privilege and may therefore not be disclosed without the client’s consent.
Other exceptions may include information that contains references to other individuals or contains confidential commercial information, where such information cannot be severed from the record.
Correcting personal information
If you believe there is a mistake in the personal information we have, you have the right to ask that it be corrected. You may be required to provide documentation confirming the error. Where we agree that there is a mistake, we will correct the information and notify anyone to whom we have sent this information. If we do not agree that a mistake has been made, we will include in our file a brief statement from you on the point and will forward that statement to anyone else to whom we had provided the information.
O’Connor MacLeod Hanna LLP
700 Kerr Street
© O’Connor MacLeod Hanna LLP, 2003