The Personal Information Protection Act of British Columbia regulates the way organizations like our law firm collect, use, keep, secure and disclose personal information. “Personal Information” means all information about an identifiable individual.
In order to provide legal advice to our clients, Gehlen Dabbs needs access to all relevant facts and information that relate to our retainer and to the representation of our clients. This information necessarily includes personal information about our clients and about individuals other than our clients.
Gehlen Dabbs and its lawyers and employees understand the importance of privacy and recognize the sensitivity of personal information received by us in the course of our legal practice.
Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Information
Where practical, Gehlen Dabbs collects personal information directly from the person to whom the information pertains. Where necessary, we may collect personal information from other sources.
As it is impossible to determine at the opening of a file what personal information will be required in order to properly advise and represent our clients, individuals can expect that Gehlen Dabbs may collect personal information including but not limited to personal information regarding personal finances, education, employment, health, personal relationships including marriages, divorces, parents and children and personal documents and records including diaries and other personal writings. By retaining Gehlen Dabbs for legal advice or representation, individual clients and principals of corporate clients consent to our collection, use or disclosure of the individual’s personal information.
Lawyers are under strict rules about maintaining personal and confidential information, in particular rules related to solicitor and client privilege. Gehlen Dabbs will not release personal information without the express or implied consent of our clients. Express consent is assumed to be given by the client for the release of any information contained in court documents or agreements and related documents prepared by or in conjunction with the firm, and to information given to experts or consultants engaged by or on behalf of the client.
Gehlen Dabbs may also use personal information obtained from individual clients to recover payment of outstanding accounts rendered by us.
The client is entitled to withdraw consent for the collection, retention and use of personal information at any time, other than as necessary for the collection of outstanding accounts, or for our performance of our legal obligations or protection of our legal rights. If a client withdraws his or her consent related to the collection, retention or use of personal information, Gehlen Dabbs may elect to not continue to act for the client.
Our policy is to collect personal information about individuals other than our clients in accordance with the provisions of the Personal Information Protection Act. The Act deems that an individual has consented to our collection, use or disclosure of personal information about that individual if, at the time the consent is deemed to be given, the purpose would be considered obvious to a reasonable person. In such circumstances, we will collect, use or disclose personal information without obtaining a written or verbal consent to do so.
The Personal Information Protection Act also permits Gehlen Dabbs to collect, use or disclose personal information about an individual in some circumstances without the individual’s consent. Those include (but are not limited to) circumstances in which:
- the collection, use or disclosure is clearly in the interests of the individual and consent cannot be obtained in a timely way;
- it is reasonable to expect that the collection or use of personal information with the consent of the individual would compromise the availability or accuracy of the information, and the collection or use of the information is necessary for an investigation or proceeding;
- it is reasonable to expect that the disclosure of personal information with the consent of the individual would compromise an investigation or proceeding, and the disclosure of the information is necessary for an investigation or proceeding;
- the personal information is available to the public from a prescribed source; or
- the collection, use or disclosure of personal information is required or authorized by law.
When Gehlen Dabbs collects, uses or discloses personal information, we will make reasonable efforts to ensure that it is accurate and complete.
Security of Personal Information
Gehlen Dabbs recognizes that we have 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.
The Gehlen Dabbs premises are located in a building with secure after-hours access and are protected by a monitored alarm system. Electronic information is stored on a server that is protected by a password system.
Requests for Access to Personal Information
The Personal Information Protection Act permits individuals to submit written requests to Gehlen Dabbs to provide them with:
- their personal information under our custody or control;
- information about how their personal information under our control has been and is being used by us;
- the names of the individuals and organizations to whom their personal information under our control has been disclosed by us.
Gehlen Dabbs will respond to requests in the time allowed by the Personal Information Protection 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 Gehlen Dabbs’ control is not absolute. The Personal Information Protection Act provides that we must not disclose personal information when:
- 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 can reasonably be expected to cause immediate or grave harm to the safety or to the physical or mental health of the individual who made the request;
- the disclosure would reveal personal information about another individual;
- the disclosure would reveal the identity of an individual who has provided personal information about another individual and the individual providing the personal information does not consent to disclosure of his or her identity.
- The Personal Information Protection Act further provides that Gehlen Dabbs is not required to disclose personal information when:
- the personal information is protected by solicitor-client privilege;
- the disclosure of the personal information would reveal confidential commercial information that, if disclosed, could, in the opinion of a reasonable person, harm the competitive position of an organization;
- the personal information was collected without consent for the purposes of an investigation, and the investigation and associated proceedings and appeals have not been completed;
- 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 a collective agreement,
- under an enactment, or
- by a court.
Requests for Correction of Personal Information
The law permits individuals to submit written requests to Gehlen Dabbs to correct errors or omissions in their personal information that is in our custody or control. If we become area of such error or omissions, we will either:
- 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
- if we decide not to correct the personal information, annotate the personal information that a correction was requested but not made.
If you have any questions with respect to Gehlen Dabbs‘ policies concerning the handling of your personal information, or if you wish to request access to, or correction of, your personal information under our care and control, please contact us at:
1201 – 1030 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC V6E 2Y3
Attention: Privacy Officer
If you are dissatisfied with our handling of your personal information, we invite you to contact our Privacy Officer in writing, setting out the reasons for your concern, at the same address. If, after our Privacy Officer has reviewed and responded to your concern, you remain dissatisfied, you may wish to contact the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner at:
Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner
P.O. Box 9038, Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9A4
Telephone (250) 387-5629
Fax (250) 387-1696