Your privacy rights
As of January 1, 2004, all businesses engaged in commercial activities must comply with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, (“PIPEDA”) unless the Federal Government has exempted the organization because it is subject to substantially similar provincial legislation. To date, lawyers and their partnerships or associations in Ontario are not exempted and Ontario has not enacted any substantially similar legislation to PIPEDA. Therefore, Hughes Amys is subject to PIPEDA. In addition, we have obligations under the Rules of Professional Conduct to maintain absolute confidence regarding information about our clients. PIPEDA gives you additional rights concerning the privacy of your personal information.
What personal information do we collect?
Why does Hughes Amys need personal information?
Hughes Amys provides legal services and products to a wide range of clients. We collect personal information about and from our clients in order to:
- Communicate with you;
- Enter into commercial relationships with you or others for the purposes of carrying on our practice, including the issuing of accounts, collecting and processing payments, and meeting contractual or insurance obligations;
- Provide legal services to you 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;
- Market our firm;
- Any other purpose to which you consent.
How do we collect your personal information?
We collect information only by lawful and fair means. Wherever possible we collect your personal information directly from you, at the start of a retainer and in the course of and in connection with that retainer. Sometimes we may obtain information about you from other sources during the course of our retainer. Examples of other sources include:
- Your insurance company;
- Your real estate agent in a property transaction;
- A government agency or registry;
- Your employer;
- Your accountant;
- Your health care providers, and
- Other consultants retained by you or on your behalf to assist with the retainer.
In addition, if you retain us to act for you, you will be required to sign a retainer agreement in which you give us your express consent to collect, use and/or disclose personal information about you during the course of our representation of you, as we determine may be necessary in order to fully represent you.
Use of your information
We use your personal information to provide legal advice and services to you, to conduct our normal client relationships, administer our client time and billing databases, and to include you in any direct marketing activities. In these respects, we assume that we have your consent to use your personal information unless you advise us to the contrary. 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.
Hughes Amys does not disclose your personal information to any third party to enable them to market their products and services without your consent. For example, we do not provide our client mailing lists to anyone, except as may be required by law.
Disclosure of your personal information
Under certain circumstances, such as the following, Hughes Amys will disclose your personal information:
- When you consent;
- When we are required or authorized by law to do so (for example, if a court issues a subpoena or summons);
- When the legal services we are providing to you require us to give your information to third parties (for example, a lender in a real estate mortgage transaction, or a doctor for a medical-legal referral in a personal injury action), your consent will be implied, unless you tell us otherwise;
- Where it is necessary to establish or collect fees;
- If we engage expert witnesses on your behalf;
- If we retain other law firms in other jurisdictions on your behalf;
- To any person whom Hughes Amys reasonably believes is providing or requesting disclosure of personal information as your agent;
- If the information is already publicly known.
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?
Hughes Amys takes 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 internal file access to personal information stored electronically;
- Technological safeguards, such as 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 written request. More detailed requests that require archive or other retrieval costs may be subject to our normal professional and disbursement fees.
How long do we keep personal information?
We keep personal information as long as is reasonable in order to conduct our business with you, or longer, if required by law.
If we hold information about you and you can establish that it is not accurate, complete and/or up to date, we 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:
- 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 our clients);
- Information relates to existing or anticipated legal proceedings against you;
- When granting you access would have an unreasonable impact on other people’s privacy;
- When to do so would prejudice negotiations with you;
- To protect our firm’s rights and property;
- Where the request is frivolous or vexatious.
If we deny your request for access to information, or refuse a request to correct information, we shall explain why.
Hughes Amys 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 deal with general inquiries without providing your name (for example, by accessing general information on our website).
To help us make credit decisions about clients, prevent fraud, check the identity of new clients and prevent money laundering, we may, on occasion request information about you from the files of consumer reporting agencies.
Communicating with us
You should be aware that email is not a 100% secure medium, and you should be aware of this when contacting us to send personal or confidential information.
If you apply to Hughes Amys 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 your confidential employee records.
You may visit our website, www.hugheamys.com. Should you do so, you can be certain that we will not ask for any personal information.
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.
Requests for access
If you have any questions, or wish to access your personal information, please write to our Privacy Contact at:
Hughes Amys, LLP
Barristers & Solicitors
48 Yonge Street, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario M5E 1G6
Attention: Mary Lavis-Todd.
If you are not satisfied with our response, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada can be reached at:
112 Kent Street
Ottawa Ontario, K1A 1H3