Personal information means information about an identifiable individual, but does not include the name, title or business address or telephone number of an employee of an organization.
As of January 1, 2004, all Canadian organizations engaged in commercial activities must 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 WEL Partners.
Personal Information at WEL Partners
WEL Partners provides legal services to a wide range of clients. In doing so, we often collect and use personal information. As well, WEL Partners sends to individuals information and marketing materials concerning developments in the law and its services.
Collecting Personal Information
We collect personal information fairly and in accordance with the law. Generally, we collect your personal information directly from you. Such collection may be done at the start of our relationship or during the course of our representation or retainer.
Sometimes we may obtain information about you from other sources including, for example:
- from a government agency or registry;
- other professionals who serve you, such as your accountant;
- other parties or witnesses in the context of litigation;
- and other parties or participants in a commercial transaction.
In most cases, if we collect, use, or disclose your personal information, we will obtain your consent. Sometimes we will ask for your consent in writing, but in some cases, we may accept your oral consent. Sometimes your consent may be implied through your conduct with us or the nature of our retainer. Should you withdraw your consent, that may impact on our ability to serve you and to maintain our relationship.
Use of Personal Information
We use your personal information to provide legal advice and services to you, to administer our client (time and billing) databases, to build and to maintain the firm's expertise and knowledge, and to include you in our information distribution and marketing activities. If you tell us that you no longer wish to receive information about developments in the law or our services, you can ask us not to send any further material.
Disclosure of Personal Information
WEL Partners does not disclose your personal information to third parties to enable them to market their products and services.
Under certain circumstances WEL Partners may disclose your personal information. Some examples are:
- when you have consented to the disclosure;
- when we are required or authorized by law to do so, including, for example, if a court issues a warrant or a subpoena;
- in order to comply with the requirements of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the regulatory body that governs the practice of law in Ontario;
- when the legal services we are providing to you requires us to give your information to third parties (for example a lender in a real estate mortgage transaction) your consent will be implied, unless you tell us otherwise;
- where it is necessary to collect fees or disbursements;
- if we engage a third party to provide administrative services to us (like computer back-up services, archival file storage, or insurance) and the third party is bound by obligations regarding privacy which are consistent with this policy;
- in the event of a merger by or growth of WEL Partners;
- if we engage expert witnesses on your behalf;
- or if we retain another law firm (such as, for example, law firms in other jurisdictions) on your behalf.
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. We may also periodically inquire of you whether your personal information is accurate and up-to-date.
Securing Personal Information
WEL Partners takes precautions to ensure that your personal information is kept safe from loss, unauthorized access, modification or disclosure. Among the steps taken to protect your personal information are:
- premises security;
- confidentiality policies as part of our professional obligations;
- deploying technological safeguards like security software and firewalls to prevent unauthorized computer access or "hacking";
- and internal password and security policies.
You should be aware that e-mail is not an entirely secure medium, and you should be aware of this when contacting us to send personal or confidential information.
Our Firm does not accept retainers via e-mail; and sending an e-mail to our Firm does not constitute a retainer.
You will not be considered a client of the Firm unless and until we have agreed to act for you according to our usual procedures for accepting clients which includes a signed written retainer agreement.
Do not include any confidential information in your e-mail. Any confidential information will be deleted immediately by our Firm.
Accessing Personal Information
You may ask for access to personal information we hold about you.
Detailed requests which require archive or other retrieval costs may be subject to our normal professional and disbursement fees.
Your rights to access your personal information are not absolute. There are a number of situations where we may deny access. If we deny your request for access to, or refuse a request to correct personal information, we will provide a reason or reasons for doing so.
To help us make credit decisions about clients, to try to prevent fraud, and to check the identity of new clients, on occasion we may request information about you from the files of consumer reporting agencies.
Our website contains links to other sites, which are not governed by this Policy.
On our website, like most other commercial websites, 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.
WEL Partners does not use any electronic means to automatically collect personal information from you or your computer; however, web servers used by WEL Partners will automatically collect IP addresses and we may view our web server IP log from time to time to prevent fraudulent acts and possible network attacks. Our blog software may install a 'cookie' to facillitate navigation however this information is not collected or stored by WEL Partners for use in anyway other than the blog's navigation support.
Requests for Access
If you have any questions, or wish to access your personal information, please contact the lawyer with whom you normally deal or write to our Privacy Contact at WEL Partners LLP
If you are not satisfied with our response, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada can be reached at:
112 Kent Street
1 (800) 282-1376
Thank you for your interest in WEL Partners.