Effective January 1, 2004, the Personal Information Protection Act regulates the way private sector organizations within British Columbia, including law firms, collect, use, keep, secure and disclose personal information.
“Personal information” means all information about an identifiable individual. The kind of personal information we typically collect, use and may disclose includes names and addresses (mail and email) of our clients, their age, personal health information, employment, income tax and/or scholastic information.
At Jeffery & Calder, we recognize the importance of privacy and understand the sensitivity of personal information entrusted to us in the course of our business.
Why Do We Need Personal Information?
In order to give legal advice, we need access to all relevant facts and information that relate to our cases. This information will necessarily include personal information about our clients and about other individuals who may not be our clients.
How Do We Collect, Use and Disclose Personal Information?
Where practical and possible, we will collect personal information directly from the person to whom the information pertains. When necessary, we will collect personal information from other sources such as doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists, physiotherapists, employers, schools etc. In order to obtain this type of personal information, we must obtain a written consent, signed by a client, authorizing the party in question to release the requested personal information to us.
When you retain a lawyer to act for you, your consent to the necessary collection, use or disclosure of your personal information is “deemed” or taken for granted, in order for the lawyer to properly advise and represent you. In such circumstances, we will collect, use or disclose a client’s personal information without obtaining a written or verbal consent to do so in each instance.
It is our policy to collect personal information about individuals other than our clients in accordance with the provisions of the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).
PIPA also permits us to collect, use or disclose personal information about an individual in some circumstances without that individual’s consent. Those include (but are not limited to) circumstances in which:
the collection, use or disclosure is clearly in the interests of the individual and consent cannot be obtained in a timely way;
it is reasonable to expect that the collection or use of personal information with the consent of the individual would compromise the availability or accuracy of the information, and the collection or use of the information is necessary for an investigation or proceeding;
it is reasonable to expect that the disclosure of personal information with the consent of the individual would compromise an investigation or proceeding, and the disclosure of the information is necessary for an investigation or proceeding;
the personal information is available to the public from a prescribed or established source;
the collection, use or disclosure of personal information is required or authorized by law.
When we collect, use or disclose personal information, we will make all reasonable efforts to ensure that it is accurate and complete.
How Do We Secure Personal Information?
As lawyers, we recognize our professional and legal obligations to protect the confidentiality of our clients’ information. We also recognize our legal obligations to protect the personal information we have gathered about other individuals in our practice. This includes all personal information obtained via electronic communications as well as printed materials.
All current client files are maintained in secured premises and we take all necessary precautions against the unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification, disposal, loss or destruction of all personal information.
At the conclusion of a case, clients are encouraged to either take all personal information that was collected during the course of their case. If they decline to do so, arrangements are made for the confidential destruction of the information. In due course, a closed file is moved off our premises to a secure and confidential off-site storage facility for long-term retention where it is kept for 10 years before being confidentially destroyed.
Can I Access My Personal Information?
Individuals may, at any time, request that we provide them with access to:
their personal information under our custody or control;
information about how their personal information under our control has been and is being used by us;
the names of the individuals and organizations to whom their personal information under our control has been disclosed by us.
We will respond to all such requests in the time allowed by PIPA and will make a reasonable effort to assist applicants and to respond as accurately and completely as reasonably possible. All requests may be subject to any fees and disbursements the law permits us to charge.
An individual’s ability to access his or her personal information under our custody and control is not absolute. PIPA provides that we must not disclose personal information when such disclosure;
can or could reasonably be expected to threaten the safety or physical or mental health of an individual other than the individual who made the request;
would reveal personal information about another individual;
would reveal the identity of an individual who has provided personal information about another individual and the individual providing the personal information does not consent to disclosure of his or her identity.
PIPA also provides that we are not required to disclose personal information when:
the personal information is protected by solicitor-client privilege;
the disclosure of the personal information would reveal confidential commercial information that, if disclosed, could, in the opinion of a reasonable person, harm the competitive position of an organization;
the personal information was collected without consent for the purposes of an investigation and the investigation and associated proceedings and appeals have not been completed;
the personal information was collected or created by a mediator or arbitrator in the conduct of a mediation or arbitration for which he or she was appointed to act under a collective agreement, under an enactment or by a court.
How Can I Correct Errors or Omissions in My Personal Information?
The law permits individuals to submit written requests to correct errors or omissions in their personal information that is in our custody or control. On receipt of such requests, we will:
correct the personal information and, if reasonable to do so, send correction notifications to any other organizations to whom we disclosed the incorrect information; or
decide not to correct the personal information, but make note on the personal information that a correction was requested but not made.
Who Do I Contact About My Personal Information?
If you have any questions regarding our policies concerning the handling of your personal information, or if you wish to request access to, or correction of, your personal information under our care and control, please contact our Privacy Officer at:
601-815 Hornby Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6Z 2E6
Telephone: (604) 669-5534
Fax: (604) 669-7563
If you are dissatisfied with our handling of your personal information, we invite you to contact our Privacy Officer in writing, setting out the reasons for your concern. If, after our Privacy Officer has reviewed and responded to your concern, you remain dissatisfied, you may wish to contact the Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner at:
Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner
P.O. Box 9038, Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9A4
Telephone: (250) 387-5629
Fax: (250) 387-1696
Our commitment to protecting your privacy
Our Privacy Statement details how we collect, use, disclose and store personal information. Our Privacy Code summarizes the principles we follow to maintain your privacy.
Principle 1 - Accountability
Our lawyers and employees are responsible for the personal information of clients and others who may be involved in any legal proceedings of which we have conduct. Our designated Privacy Officer is responsible for compliance with this Code.
Principle 2 - Identifying Purposes
The purpose(s) for which personal information is collected, used and disclosed, will be clearly identified before or at the time the information is collected and will be communicated to the appropriate parties.
Principle 3 - Consent
Consents for the collection, use or disclosure of personal information, will be obtained, except where otherwise provided by law for legal and security reasons.
Principle 4 - Collection
We shall only collect such personal information as may be necessary to prosecute an action or in the conduct of
an action. All personal information shall be collected by fair and lawful means.
Principle 5 - Use, Disclosure and Retention
Personal information will not be used, disclosed or retained for any purpose other than that for which the information was collected, except with the permission of the individual, or as permitted or required by law.
Principle 6 - Accuracy
Reasonable effort will be made to ensure personal information is accurate, complete and as current as necessary for the purposes for which it is to be used.
Principle 7 - Keeping Information Safe
Personal information will be maintained in secure premises and reasonable steps will be taken to safeguard the security of personal information while it is in our control.
Principle 8 - Openness
On request, we will make information about our policies and procedures relating to the management of personal information available to appropriate parties.
Principle 9 - Access
On request, an individual will be informed of the existence, use and disclosure of his or her personal information and shall be given access to it or provided with reasons for refusing access to any or all of the personal information. An individual will be able to challenge the accuracy and completeness of the information and have it amended as appropriate.
Principle 10 - Handling Complaints and Feedback
Individuals can address a complaint regarding compliance with these principles to our Privacy Officer. Feedback regarding our Policy Statement and/or these principles is welcome.