Since January 1, 2004, all Canadian organizations engaged in commercial activities have been required to comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (“PIPEDA”) and the Canadian Standards Association Model Code for the Protection of Personal Information incorporated by reference into PIPEDA. These obligations extend to lawyers and law firms, including Birdsell Grant LLP.
In addition, the Personal Information Protection Act (“the Act”) regulates the way private sector organizations within Alberta collect, use and disclose personal information. “Personal Information” means information about an identifiable individual. This firm recognizes the importance of privacy and recognizes the sensitivity of personal information received by us in the course of our legal practice.
We recognize our professional obligation to maintain the confidentiality of our clients’ information, and also our obligations concerning all individuals’ personal information which we collect, use or disclose in our practice. This policy has been developed with those obligations in mind.
Personal information is defined in PIPEDA as information about an identifi able individual, but does not include the name, title or business address or telephone number of an employee of an organization. In other words, it does not include the information that one expects to find on a business card.
To be able to give legal advice to our clients, we need to collect all relevant facts and information that relate to our retainer and to the representation of our clients. We may also need business and credit information so we can ensure that we will be compensated for our services. This information will necessarily include personal information about our clients and about individuals other than our clients.
Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information
In most cases, we obtain your consent to collect, use and disclose your personal information. Generally, we collect your personal information directly from you at the start of or during the course of your retainer with our firm. Sometimes we may obtain information about you from other sources such as a government registry or other professionals who serve you.
It is important that the information that we have on file 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. We may also ask you from time to time whether your personal information is up-to-date.
Where practical, we will try to collect personal information directly from the person to whom the information pertains. Where necessary, we will collect personal information from other sources.
The Act provides that an individual is deemed to consent to the collection, use or disclosure of personal information about that individual for a particular purpose if the individual voluntarily provides the information for that purpose, and it is reasonable that a person would voluntarily provide that information.
By retaining this firm for legal advice or representation, we consider that an individual consents to our collection, use or disclosure of the individual’s personal information as necessary to properly advise and represent the individual.
It is our policy to collect personal information about individuals other than our clients in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
When we collect personal information about individuals directly from them, except when their consent to the collection is deemed, we will tell them the purpose for which the information is collected, and the name of a person who can answer questions about the collection.
The Act also permits us to collect, use or disclose personal information about an individual in some circumstances without the individual’s consent. Such circumstances include (but are not limited) to situations in which:
- the collection, use or disclosure is clearly in the interests of the individual and consent cannot be obtained in a timely way;
- collection, use, or disclosure is reasonable for the purposes of an investigation or proceeding;
- the personal information is available to the public from a prescribed source; or
- the collection, use, or disclosure is required or authorized by a statute or regulation of Alberta or Canada.
When we collect, use or disclose personal information, we will make reasonable efforts to ensure that it is accurate and complete. The Act also allows us, for legal or business purposes, to retain personal information for as long as is reasonable.
In addition to the foregoing we may use your personal information to provide legal advice and services to you, to issue invoices and to maintain our database of clients. In addition, if you apply for a position with Birdsell Grant LLP, we will use your personal information to assess your candidacy. Lastly, we may use your contact information (name, e-mail and postal address) so that we may communicate with you about recent developments in the law, keep you abreast of Birdsell Grant LLP news and invite you to our firm events.
Generally, we do not disclose your personal information to third parties without your consent unless permitted or required by applicable laws or court orders. The following are some examples where we may disclose your personal information: such disclosure is necessary to collect fees or disbursements; we contract with a third party to provide us with certain services such as archival file storage or insurance. (In such cases, we will use contractual or other means to ensure the third party service provider is bound by obligations regarding privacy which are consistent with this policy); or we engage expert witnesses or other law firms on your behalf.
You may withdraw your consent to our collection, use and disclosure of your personal information at any time, subject to legal and/or contractual restrictions and upon reasonable notice. Your withdrawal of consent to our collection, use and disclosure of your personal information may impact our ability to represent you and provide you with legal advice. You can ask us not to send you marketing communications by following the opt-out instructions in each communication or you may let us know by contacting us.
Securing and Safeguarding of Personal Information
We recognize our professional and legal obligations to protect the confidential information of our clients. We recognize as well our legal obligations to protect the personal information we have gathered about our clients and about other individuals during the course of our practice of law.
We have therefore made arrangements to secure against the unauthorized access, collection, use, disclosure, copying, modification, disposal or destruction of personal information.
Birdsell Grant LLP uses various safeguards to ensure that your personal information is protected against loss, theft, misuse, unauthorized access, disclosure, copying or alteration. These include: security of our physical premises; our professional obligations; security software and firewalls to prevent unauthorized computer access or “hacking”; and internal passwords that restrict access to our electronic files.
Requests to Access to your Personal Information
You have a right to challenge the accuracy and completeness of your personal information and to have it amended, as appropriate. You also have a right to request access to your personal information and receive an accounting of how that information has been used and disclosed, subject to certain exceptions prescribed by law.
The law permits individuals to submit written requests to us to provide them with:
- their personal information under our custody or control;
- information about the purposes for which their personal information under our custody or control has been and is being used by us; and
- the names of persons to whom and the circumstances in which their personal information has been and is being disclosed by us.
We will respond to requests in the time allowed by the Act 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 control is not absolute. The law provides that we must not disclose personal information where:
- the disclosure could reasonably be expected to threaten the safety or physical or mental health of an individual other than the individual who made the request;
- the disclosure would reveal personal information about another individual; or
- the disclosure would reveal the identity of an individual who has in confidence provided us with an opinion about another individual and the individual providing the opinion does not consent to the disclosure of his or her identity.
The law further provides that we may choose not to disclose personal information where:
- the personal information is protected by any legal privilege;
- the disclosure of the information would reveal confidential commercial information and it is not unreasonable to withhold that information;
- the personal information was collected by us for an investigation or legal proceeding;
- the disclosure of the personal information might result in similar information no longer being provided to us when it is reasonable that it would be provided;
- 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 an agreement,
– under an enactment, or
– by a court; or
- the personal information relates to or may be used in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
The Act indicates that it is not to be applied so as to affect any legal privilege. We will not disclose information that is privileged where the applicant is not the client in whom the privilege is vested.
Requests for Correction of Personal Information
The law permits individuals to submit written requests to us to correct errors or omissions in their personal information that is in our custody or control. 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 annotate the personal information that a correction was requested but not made.
Birdsell Grant LLP will respond to inquiries about its policies and practices relating to its handling of your personal information. Birdsell Grant LLP will investigate all complaints and will respond within a reasonable period of time of receipt of a written inquiry. If the complaint is found to be justified, Birdsell Grant LLP will take appropriate measures to resolve it, including, if necessary, amending this Policy and its procedures.
If you have any questions or complaints about this Policy or the handling of your personal information, if you wish to withdraw your consent to our use of your personal information, or to request access to or update any information we have on file, please contact the lawyer with whom you are dealing, or contact:
Birdsell Grant LLP
#102, 5300 - 50 St.
Stony Plain, AB, T7Z 1T8
Attention: Managing Partner
If you are dissatisfied with our handling of your personal information, we invite you to contact us in writing, setting out the reasons for your concern. If you remain dissatisfied after our Privacy Officer has reviewed and responded to your concern, you may wish to contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner at:
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (Calgary)
Suite 500, 640 – 5th Avenue SW, Calgary, AB T2P 3G4
Phone: (403) 297-2728, Fax: (403) 297-2711, Toll Free: 1-888-878-4044
Privacy Commissioner of Canada
112 Kent Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 1H3
Telephone: 613.995.8210, Toll free: 1.800.282.1376.
Commission d’accès à l’information du Québec
480 St. Laurent, Suite 501, Montreal, Quebec, H2Y 3Y7
Telephone: 514.873.4196, Toll Free: 1.888.528.7741
Please check from time to time to ensure you are aware of our current policy.