As of January 1, 2004, all businesses engaged in commercial activities, including law firms, must comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (Canada) (the “Act”) and the Canadian Standards Association Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information, which the Act incorporates. The Act gives rights to individuals with respect to the privacy of their personal information.
To ensure that the Law Office of Victoria Loh is accountable for the personal information that it collects and holds, I have developed this policy, and have trained my support staff about my policies and practices.
Why Does The Law Office of Victoria Loh Need Personal Information?
There are several reasons why I collect personal information, one of which is that I have a legal obligation to do so. The Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (Canada) requires me to confirm the identity of all new clients. It may also require me disclose information to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (“FINTRAC”) in relation to large cash transactions. Another reason, which perhaps goes without saying, is that I need contact information (address, telephone number, etc.) for my clients so that I can keep them abreast of any developments regarding their personal legal matters, as well as any developments in the law in general that may affect them. I may also wish to contact a client to suggest third-party products that are marketed towards them. Put simply, if I did not collect and use personal information I could not provide my clients with legal services.
What Personal Information Do We Collect?
Personal information is any information that identifies you, or by which your identity could be deduced. Personal information that The Law Office of Victoria Loh requests from its clients includes, but is not limited to, name, address, phone number, and date of birth. However, The Law Office of Victoria Loh will never use your Social Insurance Number as a way of identifying you or organizing your personal information.
How Does The Law Office of Victoria Loh Collect Personal Information?
I collect information only by lawful means and not in an unreasonably intrusive manner. Whenever possible, I collect personal information directly, for example, at the time a client retains my office and in the course of my representation of them. Sometimes, however, I may need to obtain information about a client from other sources. For example, from the client’s: insurance company; real estate agent in a property transaction; employer, if I am acting for the employer, at its request; accountant; or from a government agency or registry.
In most cases, I ask specifically for consent to collect, use, or disclose personal information. Normally, I ask for consent in writing, but in some circumstances, I may accept oral consent. Sometimes, consent may be implied through a client’s conduct with my office.
Use of Personal Information
I use personal information to provide legal advice and services to my clients, to administer my client (time and billing) databases and to include my clients in direct marketing activities. However, if a client tells me that they no longer wish to receive information about my services or about new developments in the law, I will not send them any additional material. Further, The Law Office of Victoria Loh does not disclose personal information to any third party to enable them to directly market their products and services. For example, I do not provide my client mailing lists to other law firms.
Disclosure of Personal Information
Under certain circumstances, The Law Office of Victoria Loh will disclose personal information:
• when I am required or authorized by law to do so, for example, if a court issues a subpoena;
• when I have consent for the disclosure;
• when the legal services that I am providing to a client requires me to give information to third parties (for example, a lender in a real estate mortgage transaction), the client's consent will be implied, unless they tell me otherwise;
• where it is necessary to establish or collect fees;
• if I engage an expert witnesses on behalf of a client;
• if I retain other law firms in other jurisdictions on behalf of a client;
• if the information is already publicly known.
It is important that my clients’ information be accurate and up-to-date. If, during the course of the retainer, a client’s information changes, I ask that the client please inform my office.
Securing Personal Information
The Law Office of Victoria Loh takes all reasonable precautions to ensure that personal information is kept safe from loss, unauthorized access, modification or disclosure. Among the steps my office takes to protect personal information are:
• office security system;
• restricted access to personal information;
• technological safeguards, such as security software and firewalls to prevent unauthorized computer access;
• internal password and security policies.
Access to Personal Information
You may request access to any personal information that my office has about you. Summary information is available on request. More detailed requests, which require archive or other retrieval costs, may be subject to my normal professional and disbursement fees.
If The Law Office of Victoria Loh holds information about you which you can establish is not accurate or complete, my office will take reasonable steps to correct it.
Can You Be Denied Access to Personal Information?
Access to your personal information is not absolute. The Law Office of Victoria Loh may deny access when:
• denial of access is required or authorized by law (for example, when a record containing personal information about you is subject to a claim of legal professional privilege by one of my clients);
• the information relates to existing or anticipated legal proceedings against you;
• granting access to you would have an unreasonable impact on the privacy of others;
• negotiations with you would be prejudiced;
• denial of access is necessary to protect my firm's rights and property;
• the request is frivolous or vexatious.
If I deny your request for access to your personal information, or refuse to correct your personal information, I will explain why.
Can You Request Anonymity?
Whenever it is legal and practical, The Law Office of Victoria Loh will give you the opportunity to make general inquiries without having to provide your name (for example, by accessing general information on my website).
To help The Law Office of Victoria Loh make credit decisions, prevent fraud, check the identity of new clients and prevent money-laundering, my office may occasionally request information about clients from the files of consumer reporting agencies.
Communicating With Us
You should be aware that, when sending The Law Office of Victoria Loh personal or confidential information, electronic mail is not a 100-per-cent secure medium.
Requests for Access
If you have any questions, or wish to access your personal information, please write to our Privacy Contact, Victoria Loh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not satisfied with my response, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada can be reached at the following address:
112 Kent Street
If you apply to The Law Office of Victoria Loh for a job, my office will need to consider your personal information as part of my review process. The Law Office of Victoria Loh normally retains information from candidates after a decision has been made, unless you ask my office not to retain the information. If you accept the offer of a job from The Law Office of Victoria Loh, the information will be retained in accordance with our privacy procedures for employee records.