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Privacy Policy

While we comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) affords you additional rights concerning privacy of your personal information.  This policy is made pursuant to PIPEDA.

Privacy of personal information is an important principle to Stancer, Gossin, Rose LLP (“SGR”).  We are committed to collecting, using and disclosing personal information responsibly and only to the extent necessary for the services we provide.  We also try to be open and transparent as to how we manage personal information.  This document describes our privacy policies.

(1) Who We Are

SGR has five lawyers and four support staff.  We use a number of outside agencies that may, in the course of their duties, have limited access to personal information we hold.  These include – but are not limited to – process servers, paralegals, computer agents, office maintenance, cleaners, bookkeepers, and our landlord. We restrict their access to any personal information we hold as much as is reasonably possible.  We also have their assurance that they follow appropriate privacy principles.

(2) What is Personal Information?  Personal information is information about an identifiable individual.  Personal information includes information that relates to their personal characteristics (e.g., gender, age, income, home address, or phone number, ethnic background, family status), their health (e.g., health history, health conditions, health services received by them) or their activities and views (e.g., religion, politics, opinions expressed by an individual, an opinion or evaluation of an individual).  Personal information is to be contrasted with business information (e.g. an individual’s business address and telephone number) which is not protected by privacy legislation.
(3) Purposes of Collecting Information:
(a) Clients: Like all lawyers, we collect, use and disclose personal information in order to serve our clients. For our clients, the primary purpose for collecting personal information is to provide legal advice and related services. Where our client is an individual, we collect information about the client’s legal issue including anything the client might have done or said that might affect their legal situation, so that we can advise the client as to their legal rights and responsibilities, their options for addressing the issue and to carry out their instructions.
A second primary purpose might be to collect personal information from third parties about a client’s legal issue so that we can ascertain how the third party’s perception of events can affect our client’s legal situation. It would be rare for us to collect any personal information without the client’s express consent, but this might occur in a case of urgency (e.g., the client is unavailable) or where we believe the client would consent if asked and it is impractical to obtain consent (e.g., a potential witness is located).
(b) Investigations: When we act as an investigator for our client, our primary purpose for collecting personal information is to gather the necessary information and evidence to express a sound opinion on the issue for our client and represent the client in legal proceedings.  For example, we may collect information about an allegation of wrongdoing by a member of our client’s organization or an employee of our client.  In such circumstances, we often act without the consent of the subject of the investigation because we are inquiring into an apparent breach of law or an agreement and obtaining consent would compromise the investigation.
(c) About Members of the General Public: For members of the general public, our primary purpose for collecting personal information is usually to gather and review evidence that is relevant to a legal issue affecting our own clients.  Thus, the personal information is usually incidental to our providing advice to our client.  Often this collection, use and disclosure is done without the individual’s consent because we are reviewing an apparent breach of law or an agreement and obtaining consent would compromise the investigation.

(4) Related and Secondary Purposes of Collecting Personal Information:

Like most businesses, we also collect, use and disclose information for purposes related to or secondary to our primary purposes.  The most common examples of our related and secondary purposes are as follows:

  • To invoice clients for services, or to collect unpaid accounts.
  • Our firm reviews client and other files for the purpose of ensuring that we provide services of the highest quality, including assessing the performance of our lawyers and staff.
  • Lawyers are regulated by the Law Society of Upper Canada who may inspect our records and interview our staff as a part of its regulatory activities in the public interest. In addition, as professionals, we will report serious misconduct, incompetence or incapacity of other practitioners, whether they belong to other organizations or our own. Also, there may be instances where we are required to report information suggesting serious illegal behaviour to the authorities. External regulators have their own strict privacy regulations. These reports could include personal information about our clients, or other individuals, to support the concern (e.g., improper services) although we try to keep this disclosure to a minimum. Also, like all organizations, various government agencies (e.g., Canada Revenue Agency, Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, etc.) have the authority to review our files and interview our staff as a part of their mandates (although, solicitor and client privilege restricts their access to much of this information). In these circumstances, we may consult with professionals (e.g., lawyers, accountants) who will investigate the matter and report back to us.
  • If the cost of some services provided by the firm to clients is paid for by third parties, these third party payors often have your consent or legislative authority to direct us to collect and disclose to them certain information in order to demonstrate client entitlement to and responsible use of this funding.
  • Clients or other individuals we deal with may have questions about our services after they have been received.  We provide ongoing services for many of our clients over a period of months or years for which previous records are helpful.  We retain our client information for a minimum of ten years after the last contact to enable us to respond to those questions and provide these services (the Law Society also requires us to retain certain client records).

(5) Retention and Destruction of Personal Information:

We need to retain personal information for some time to ensure that we can answer any questions you might have about the services provided and for our own accountability to external regulatory bodies.  However, we do not want to keep such information for too long in order to protect your privacy.

We keep our client files for about ten years.  Our client and contact directories are much more difficult to systematically destroy, so we remove such information when we can if it does not appear that we will be contacting you again.  However, if you ask, we will remove such contact information immediately.

We destroy paper files containing personal information by shredding. We destroy electronic information by deleting it and, when the hardware is discarded, we ensure that the hard drive is physically destroyed. Alternatively, we may send some or all of the client file to our client.

(6) Protecting Personal Information:

We understand the importance of protecting personal information. For that reason, we have taken the following steps:

  • Paper information is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area.
  • Electronic hardware is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area at all times. In addition, passwords are used on computers.
  • Paper or printable information is transmitted as securely as is reasonably possible in the circumstances to protect your privacy.
  • Staff are trained to collect, use and disclose personal information only as necessary to fulfill their duties and in accordance with our privacy policy.

(7) Your Information:

With some exceptions, including our right to a solicitor’s lien where applicable, you have the right to see what personal information we hold about you.  Often all you have to do is ask.  We can help you identify what records we might have about you. We will also try to help you understand any information you do not understand (e.g., short forms, technical language, etc.).  We will need to confirm your identity, if we do not know you, before providing you with this access.  We reserve the right to charge a nominal fee for such requests.

If there is a problem, we may ask you to put your request in writing.  If we cannot give you access, we will tell you within 30 days if at all possible and tell you the reason, as best we can, as to why we cannot give you access.  If we collected personal information about you for a client of ours, there is a good chance that the information is protected by solicitor and client privilege and you will not be given access to it without our client’s consent.

If you believe there is a mistake in the information, you have the right to ask for it to be corrected.  This applies to factual information and not to any professional opinions we may have formed.  We may ask you to provide documentation that our files are wrong. Where we agree that we made a mistake, we will make the correction and notify anyone to whom we sent this information.  If we do not agree that we have made a mistake, we will still agree to include in our file a brief statement from you on the point and we will forward that statement to anyone else who received the earlier information.
Questions?
Our Information Officer Eric Gossin can be reached at:
Eric B. Gossin – Stancer, Gossin, Rose LLP
1210 Sheppard Avenue East, Suite 310
Toronto, Ontario
M2K 1E3
Tel: 416.224.1996
Fax: 416.224.1997
Email:
He will attempt to answer any questions or concerns you might have. If you wish to make a formal complaint about our privacy practices, you may make it in writing to our Information Officer. He will acknowledge receipt of your complaint, ensure that it is investigated promptly and that you are provided with a formal decision and reasons in writing.

PIPEDA is a complex Act and provides some additional exceptions to the privacy principles that are too detailed to set out here. There are some rare exceptions to the commitments set out above.

For more general inquiries, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada oversees the administration of the privacy legislation in the private sector. The Commissioner also acts as a kind of ombudsman for privacy disputes. The Information and Privacy Commissioner can be reached at:

112 Kent Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1H3
Phone: 613.995.8210 / Toll-Free: 1.800.282.1376
Fax: 613.947.6850 / TTY: 613.992.9190 / www.privcom.gc.ca