Richards Buell Sutton LLP (RBS) is committed to protecting the privacy of personal information provided to us. Personal information includes any information that can be used to identify an individual.
It is important that our clients understand that by retaining us to provide legal services, they are consenting to the collection, use, and disclosure of their personal information for the purpose of enabling us to act for them in relation to the particular legal matter for which they have engaged us.
Collection of Personal Information
In order to provide high quality legal services, we need to collect a broad range of personal information from our clients, prospective clients, and other parties. Sometimes, the collection of this information is required by legislation or by order of a Court or tribunal.
Most of the personal information we collect is obtained from clients when they instruct us, and subsequently as we act for them in a legal matter.
Due to the nature of legal work, however, it is not always possible to collect information from an individual directly. For instance, if we are acting for a child or a dependent adult in a matter, we may need to collect information from their guardian or trustee. We may also need to collect personal information from other parties involved in litigation, or from lawyers, employers, hospitals, trade unions, relevant government agencies, courts and tribunals.
We also collect personal information from, and about, employees and potential employees, for various purposes including determining appropriate levels of compensation, evaluating performance and administering payroll and benefits.
The personal information we collect may include sensitive financial or health-related information.
We collect personal information in a variety of ways: in writing, in person, on the telephone, through our website, and by other electronic communication. Please note that we have installed video cameras on our premises in public-access areas and we have posted signs notifying individuals of the existence and purpose of such cameras. The information we collect in this regard is to enhance workplace security.
Use and Disclosure of Personal Information
The personal information we collect is used for the purpose of advancing our clients’ legal interests. We may disclose personal information to others in certain circumstances to properly assess and deal with a legal matter.
Disclosure of personal information may take place in situations permitted under British Columbia or Federal legislation. The disclosure may be required by law or by order of a Court or tribunal. We may also disclose personal information to others, such as lawyers representing other parties, consultants or expert witnesses asked to provide advice or services on behalf of our clients. Such disclosures are subject to the rules of the various Courts or tribunals in which our clients’ cases proceed.
Beyond these circumstances, the personal information collected by RBS is mainly for internal use, except that, in the case of our employees and partners, we disclose personal information to payroll administrators and third party benefit suppliers when necessary for the administration of payroll and benefits. We take reasonable contractual steps to ensure that third parties to whom we may disclose personal information provide a comparable level of personal information protection.
Within reasonable legal limits, we collect, use and disclose personal information only with the consent of the person involved. In certain circumstances, privacy legislation authorizes the collection, use or disclosure of personal information without the consent of the individual such as to respond to emergencies or where obtaining consent would be similarly unnecessary or inappropriate.
RBS operates a website. Our server does not currently attach cookies to your computers memory when you visit our website. Our internet service provider may make a record of the individuals who visit our site and log the following information for statistical purposes: internet address, domain name, date and time of visit to the website, pages and documents downloaded, previous website visited and type of browser used. This information is only used for statistical and website development purposes. If you visit our website, you do so voluntarily and are deemed to consent to our collection of your personal information as specified in this paragraph.
Subject to reasonable and lawful conditions, an individual may withdraw or vary consent for our collection, use, and disclosure of his or her personal information at any time with prior written notice to us.
Personal employee information is information relating to an individual who is an employee (including those who work under contract, students and volunteers) or a potential employee and which is collected, used, or disclosed for the purposes of establishing, managing or terminating an employment relationship. Under provincial privacy legislation, organizations have broader rights to collect, use, and disclose personal employee information without the consent of the individual.
Nevertheless, RBS, in its sole discretion, may seek the consent of its employees for the collection, use, and disclosure of sensitive personal employee information.
Security of Personal Information
Our staff and associates are trained to appreciate the importance of privacy and confidentiality of personal information.
In order to provide reasonable security for personal information which is in electronic form, we implement administrative and technological safeguards to prevent unauthorized access to the firm’s network and data storage systems.
Retention of Personal Information
Privacy legislation stipulates that personal information need not be retained longer than is reasonably necessary.
When our legal services to a client are concluded, we close the file. We may, in our sole discretion, destroy duplicate materials before closing the file.
We will maintain our client file retention practices which mandate that files be closed and stored for periods up to ten (10) years beyond the conclusion of the matter.
We will retain our employees’ personal information for at least seven (7) years after they leave our employment.
Under privacy legislation, individuals have a right of access to records containing their personal information, subject to certain legal restrictions, including the privilege which is inherent in the relationship between a lawyer and a client. A reasonable fee may be charged but we will provide an advance estimate of any fee we plan to charge.
Access requests for personal information are to be directed to the firm’s Privacy Officer, as named by RBS. Contact information for the Privacy Officer is provided below.
All access requests are to be in writing and shall set out in sufficient detail the scope of the request.
If there is an error or omission in personal information in our custody or under our control for which a request for correction has been received, we will, subject to legal limitations, correct the information as soon as reasonably possible or annotate it with the correction that was requested but not made.
The Privacy Officer will assist the individual with the access request and respond in a timely manner, advising whether access to the requested records will be granted, and explaining the reasons for the refusal, if any part of the access request is refused. The Privacy Officer will also inform the applicant that he or she may ask the Information and Privacy Commissioner to review the decision.
Changes to Policy
We reserve the right to change this policy at any time. Please review this policy statement from time to time to ensure that you are aware of and accept any changes that have been made.
Richards Buell Sutton LLP
Barristers and Solicitors
700-401 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 5A1