Privacy Policy

John David Sutherland, Professional Corporation, Barristers& Solicitors (“JDS”), recognizes the importance of privacy and the sensitivity of personal information. As lawyers we have a professional obligation to keep confidential all information we receive within a lawyer-client relationship. We are committed to protecting any personal information we hold. This Privacy Policy outlines how we manage your personal information and safeguard your privacy.

YOUR PRIVACY RIGHTS

From January 1, 2004, all businesses engaged in commercial activities must comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, (“PIPEDA”), unless the federal cabinet has exempted the organization because it is subject to “substantially similar” provincial legislation. To date, lawyers and law firms, including JDS, are not subject to any such exemption orders. Therefore, these obligations extend to lawyers and law firms, including JDS. Although, as lawyers, we have always been obligated by the Law Society of Ontario’s Professional Rules of Conduct to maintain the confidentiality of client information, PIPEDA gives you additional rights concerning the privacy of your personal information.

JDS is responsible for the personal information we collect, use, maintain and disclose. To ensure this accountability, we have developed this policy for implementation by all lawyers and staff.

WHAT IS “PERSONAL INFORMATION”?

Personal information is any information about you, or by which your identity could be deduced, including such information as your home address/phone/email, billing information, credit information, family information, ethnicity, sexual orientation, blood type, medical information and personal financial information. Personal information does not usually include business contact information such as your name, title, employer/organization, or business address, phone/fax number or email. For the purposes of this privacy policy, personal information has the same definition as in the controlling legislation. We must obtain personal information in order to provide you with legal services. If we did not collect and use personal information, we could not provide you with those services. We only collect that personal information which is reasonably necessary for our commercial relationship.

WHY DO WE COLLECT PERSONAL INFORMATION FROM YOU?

We collect personal information from you to:

  • Communicate with you;
  • Enter into commercial relationships with you or others for the purpose of carrying on our practice, including the issues of accounts, collecting and processing payments, and meeting contractual or insurance obligations;
  • Provide legal services to you, in accordance with your instructions, and on your behalf;
  • Maintain and enhance our internal knowledge management databases;
  • Comply with regulatory and audit requirements of the Law Society and other governmental or regulatory authorities;
  • Advise you of developments in the law;
  • Advise you of the services that we provide, firm news and firm events;
  • Any other purpose to which you consent.

HOW DO WE COLLECT YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION?

We collect information by lawful means only. Wherever possible we collect your personal information directly from you, both 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:

  • 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 your employer’s request;
  • your accountant; or
  • other consultants or individual obtained by you or with your consent to assist with your legal concerns.

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.

USE OF YOUR INFORMATION

We use your personal information to provide legal advice and services to you, to administer our client (time and billing databases) and to include you in any direct marketing activities. If you tell us that you no longer wish to receive information about our services, or about new developments in the law, we will not send any further material. JDS 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.

DISCLOSURE OF YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION

Under certain circumstances, JDS 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;
  • when the legal services we are providing to you requires us give your information to third parties (for example a lender in a real estate mortgage transaction) your consent will be implied, unless you tell us otherwise;
  • where it is necessary to establish or collect fees;
  • if we engage a third party to provide administrative services to us (like computer back-up services or archival file storage) and the third party is bound by our privacy policy;
  • if we engage expert witnesses on your behalf;
  • if we retain other law firms at your request, and on your behalf;
  • if the information is Publicly Available Personal Information, as it is defined under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

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.

IS MY PERSONAL INFORMATION SECURE?

JDS 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 file access to 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 JDS holds information about you and you can establish that it is not accurate, complete and up-to-date, JDS 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:

  • it is required or authorized by law (for example, when a record containing personal information about you is protected by solicitor-client privilege);
  • to do so would reveal confidential commercial information, and the personal information cannot be severed from the record;
  • to do so could reasonably be expected to threaten the life or security of another individual, and the personal information cannot be severed from the record; or
  • the information was generated in the course of a formal dispute resolution process.

If we deny your request for access to, or refuse a request to correct information, we shall explain why. JDS does not use your Social Insurance Number as a way of identifying or organizing the information we hold upon you.

CAN I REQUEST ANONYMITY?

Whenever it is legal and practicable, we may offer the opportunity to deal with general inquiries without providing your name (for example, by accessing general information on our website). The Act requires us to confirm the identity of all new clients. It may also require us disclose information to FINTRAC in relation to certain large cash transactions.

CREDIT BUREAUS

To help us make credit decisions about clients, prevent fraud, check the identity of new clients and prevent money-laundering, we may – with your consent – 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.

CHANGES TO THIS PRIVACY POLICY

Since JDS regularly reviews all of its policies and procedures, we may change our Privacy Policy from time to time.

REQUESTS FOR ACCESS

If you have any questions, or wish to access your personal information, please write to our Privacy Contact at: Crystal Sutherland, 1540 Cornwall Rd., Suite 205, Oakville, Ontario, L6J 7W5. If you are not satisfied with our response, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada can be reached at 112 Kent Street, Ottawa Ontario, K1A 1H3 1.800.282.1376.

EMPLOYMENT INQUIRIES

If you apply to JDS 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.

WEB SITE

Our website contains links to other sites, which are not governed by this privacy policy. On our website, like most 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 these statistics do not include any identifiable personal information.