OBJECTIVE & SCOPE OF POLICY
Our obligations as legal professionals are governed, in part, by the Rules of Professional Conduct that govern each of our professionals as members of Law Societies. These obligations apply to all professionals, employees, contractors and agents who provide services in connection with our delivery of legal and other services to our clients. Other applicable laws and internal Firm policies govern the protection of Personal Information of partners, associates and employees of Gowlings.
As a general rule, all information concerning the business and affairs of a person or organization acquired (1) for the purpose of determining whether Gowlings will enter into a professional relationship or (2) in the course of a professional relationship shall be held in strict confidence and not revealed to anyone unless expressly or implicitly authorized by the person or organization concerned. A professional relationship develops when Gowlings agrees to be retained to provide services to a particular individual or organization. In order to protect their own interests, individuals or organizations should not send confidential information to Gowlings until they have had a direct discussion with a professional at the firm regarding the retention of Gowlings to provide legal services.
THE COLLECTION, USE & DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
Gowlings collects only such information from individuals or organizations as is required for the purposes of providing services or information to them. Gowlings collects e-mail and mailing addresses in connection with the provision of such services and information, including preparing retainer letters, complying with “know your client” rules, opening new files/matters, allowing individuals to access and use virtual data rooms or subscribe to a publication offered by the Firm. The Firm uses information collected through such subscriptions to send subscribers the publication they have requested, and to provide information that may be of possible interest.
Gowlings does not sell, trade, barter or exchange for consideration any Personal Information it has obtained. Unless permitted by law, no Personal Information is collected about an individual, without first obtaining the consent of the individual to the collection, use and dissemination of that information.
Personal Information will be collected, to the extent possible, directly from the individual concerned.
Unless in the context of providing legal or other services, Gowlings does not knowingly collect Personal Information from anyone under the age of 18, especially children under 13, and does not use such information if it discovers that it is has been provided by a minor.
Personal Information may also be subject to transfer to another organization in the event of a merger or change of ownership of all or part of Gowlings. This will occur only if the parties have entered into an agreement under which the collection, use and disclosure of the information is restricted to those purposes that relate to the business transaction, including a determination whether or not to proceed with the business transaction, and is to be used by the parties to carry out and complete the business transaction.
Please note that there are circumstances where the use and/or disclosure of Personal Information may be justified or permitted or where Gowlings is obliged to disclose information without consent. Such circumstances may include:
Gowlings endeavours to ensure that any Personal Information provided and in its possession is as accurate, current and complete as necessary for the purposes for which Gowlings uses that information.
Gowlings keeps Personal Information only as long as it is required for the reasons it was collected. The length of time we retain information varies, depending on the product or service and the nature of the information. This period may extend beyond the end of a person's relationship with us but it will be only for so long as it is necessary for us to have sufficient information to respond to any issues that may arise at a later date. When your Personal Information is no longer required for Gowlings' purposes, we have procedures to destroy, delete, erase or convert it into an anonymous form.
Currently, the principal places in which Gowlings holds Personal Information are in the cities in which Gowlings has offices or production facilities and nearby municipalities where off-site storage facilities may be located. Gowlings does allow certain authorized third party providers to track and store certain information about visitors to Gowlings web sites (namely domain names, IP addresses and page views as described below) and such information will be stored outside of Canada if the third party provider is located outside of Canada. Individuals that use and access Gowlings web sites hereby acknowledge and agree that such information obtained by such third party providers located in countries other than Canada may be accessed by the courts, law enforcement or national security authorities of such country.
Gowlings has taken steps to maintain adequate physical, procedural and technical security with respect to its offices and information storage facilities so as to prevent any loss, misuse, unauthorized access, disclosure, or modification of Personal Information.
Gowlings further protects Personal Information by restricting access to it to those individuals that the management of Gowlings has determined need to know that information in order that Gowlings may provide its services.
In terms of communicating Personal Information to Gowlings, you may wish to note that there is no method of transmitting or storing data that is completely secure. While the physical characteristics of each are different, mail, telephone calls, faxes and transmissions over the Internet are all susceptible to possible loss, misrouting, interception and misuse of the information being communicated or transmitted.
As do many organizations, Gowlings attempts to strike a reasonable balance between security and convenience. In communicating with clients and others, Gowlings often requests the right to use a method of communication that is less secure than some of its less convenient alternatives. An example of this is e-mail. At this time, when we use e-mail, it may be sent as unencrypted plain text. We do this because Gowlings believes that many of our clients and others cannot readily process encrypted e-mail. This is done for their convenience but we expect that our clients and others understand that if misrouted or intercepted, unencrypted email could be read more easily than encrypted e-mail.
GOWLINGS WEB SITES
Gowlings provides clients and others with general access to public web sites and restricted access to extranets. Our Web servers and authorized third party providers track general information about visitors such as their domain name, IP address and time of visit. Gowlings' Web servers also collect and aggregate information regarding which pages are being accessed as well as information volunteered by visitors through online surveys or subscriptions to electronic newsletters. This information is used internally, only in aggregate form, to better serve visitors by helping us to: