Waters and Hastings, Barristers and Solicitors



Privacy of personal Information is a guiding principal to Waters & Hastings. We are committed to collecting, using and disclosing personal information responsibly and only to the extent necessary for the goods and services we provide. We also try to be open and transparent as to how we handle personal information. This document describes our privacy policies as they relate to the handling of information in matrimonial matters.


Personal information is information about an identifiable individual. Personal information includes information that relates to their personal characteristics (i.e., gender, age, income, home address or telephone number, ethnic background, family status) their health (i.e. health history, health conditions, health services received by them) or their activities and views ( i.e. religion, politics, opinions expressed by and individual, an opinion or evaluation of an individual) Personal information is to be contrasted with business information (i.e. an individual's business address and telephone number) which in not protected by privacy legislation.


The law office of Waters & Hastings, has two lawyers. We have a number of support staff, some of whom are full time while others work part-time. Only those support staff who are working on your behalf will access the information in your file and then only for the purposes we have agreed upon. We, occasionally use consultants or other agencies that may in the course of their duties have limited access to the personal information which we hold. These would include computer consultants, bookkeepers or accountants and temporary workers hired to cover holidays or other lawyers. We restrict their access to any personal information we hold as much as reasonably possible. We also have their assurance that they follow appropriate privacy principals.


About Clients:

Like all lawyers, we collect, use and disclose, personal information in order. to serve our clients, For our clients, the primary purpose for collecting personal information is to provide legal advice and services. Where our client is an individual, we collect information about the client's legal issue including anything the client might have said or done that might affect their legal situation so that we can advise our client as to their legal rights and responsibilities, their options for addressing the issue and then to carry out their instructions.

A secondary purpose might be to collect personal information about third parties about a client’s legal issues so that we can ascertain how that third party’s perception of events can affect our client’s legal situation.

A third primary purpose is to obtain further contact information so that we can contact our client in an emergency situation. We will do our very best to respect your wishes about the appropriate place to contact you.

It would be rare for us to collect any personal information without our client’s express consent but this might occur in case of urgency (i.e. the client is unavailable) or where we believe the client would consent if asked and it is impractical or impossible to obtain consent.

About Contract Staff

For people who are contracted to do work for us (i.e. temporary workers), our primary purpose for collecting personal information is to ensure we can contact them in the further and for the necessary work-related communications (i.e. sending out pay cheques, year-end tax receipts, tax fillings). Examples of the type of personal information we might collect for those purposes include home addresses and telephone numbers. It is rare for us to collect such information without prior consent but it might happen in the case of a health emergency (i.e. outbreak of a contagious disease) or to investigate a possible breach of law (i.e. if a theft were to occur in our office).


When we act as an investigator for business clients, our primary purpose for collecting personal information is to gather the necessary information and evidence to express an opinion on the legal proceedings.

We Collect Personal Information: Related and Secondary Purposes

Like most organizations, we also collect, use, and disclose information for purposes related or secondary to our primary purposes. The most common examples of our related and secondary purposes are as follows:

  • to invoice clients for goods and services and to collect unpaid accounts
  • to advise clients and others of new developments in the law
  • our firm reviews client files for the purpose of ensuring that we provide high quality services
  • lawyers are regulated by the Law Society of Upper Canada who may inspect our records and interview our staff as part of its regulatory activities in the public interest. In addition, as professionals, we will report serious misconduct, incompetence or incapacity of other practitioners whether they belong to other organizations or our own. Also like all organizations various government agencies (i.e. Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Information and Privacy Commission, Human Rights Commission, etc.) have the authority to review our files and interview our staff as a part of their mandates (although, the solicitor client privilege restricts their access to much of this information). In these circumstances, we may consult with professionals (i.e. lawyers, accountants) who will investigate the matter and report back to us.
  • the cost of some services provided by the firm to clients is paid for by third parties (i.e. legal insurance policies) these third party payers often have your consent or legislative authority to direct us to collect and disclose to them certain information in order to demonstrate client entitlement to and responsible use of this funding
  • clients or other individuals we deal with may have questions about our services after they have been received. We also provide ongoing services for many of our clients over a period of months or years for which precious records are helpful. We retain our client information for a minimum of after the last contact to enable use to respond to those questions and to provide these services (the Law Society also requires us to retain our client records).
  • if Waters & Hastings or its assets were to be sold, the purchaser would want to conduct a “due diligence” review of the firms records to ensure that it is a viable business that has been honestly portrayed to the purchase. This due diligence may involve some review of our accounting and services files. The purchaser would not be able to remove or record personal information. Before being provided access to the files, the purchaser must first provide a written promise to keep all personal information confidential. Only reputable purchasers who have already agreed to buy the organization’s business or its assets would be provided access to personal information and only for the purpose of completing their due diligence search prior to closing the purchase.

Protection Personal Information

We understand the importance of protecting personal information. For the reason, we have taken the following steps:

  • paper information is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area.
  • electronic hardware is either under supervision or secure in a locked or restricted area. In addition, passwords are used on the computers.
  • paper information is transmitted through sealed addressed envelopes or boxes by reputable companies.
  • electronic information is transmitted only through a direct line or as specifically directed by you (i.e. you wish us to send a fax transmission to a general station at your place of employment).
  • we collect, use and disclose personal information only as necessary to fulfill their duties and in accordance with our privacy policy.
  • external consultants with access to personal information must enter into privacy agreements with us.

Retention and Destruction of Personal Information

We need to retain personal information for some time to ensure that we can answer any questions that you might have about the services provided and for our own accountability to external regulatory bodies. However, we do not want to keep your personal information to long in order to protect your privacy.

We keep our client files for about fifteen years. Our client and contact directories are much more difficult to systematically destroy so we remove such information when we can if it does not appear that we will be contacting you again. However, if you ask, we will remove such contact information right away.

We destroy paper files containing personal information by shredding. We destroy electronic information by deleting it and, when the hardware is discarded, we ensure that the hard drive is physically destroyed.

You can look at your information

With some exceptions, (one of which is quite broad) you have the right to see what information we hold about you. Often all you have to do is ask. We can help you identify what records we might have about you. We will also try to help you understand any information you do not understand (i.e. short forms, technical languages, etc.). We will need to confirm your identity if we do not know you before providing you with this access. We reserve the right to charge a nominal fee for such requests.

If there is a problem, we may ask you to put your request in writing. If we cannot give you access, we will tell you within 30 days if at all possible and tell you the reason, as best we can, as to why we cannot give you that access. If we collected personal information about you for a client, there is a good chance that the information is protected by solicitor and client privilege and you will not be given access to it without our client’s permission.

If you believe there is a mistake in the information, you have the right to ask for it to be corrected. This applies to factual information and not to any professional opinions we may have formed. We may ask you to provide documentation that our files are wrong. Where we agree that we made a mistake, we will make the correction and notify anyone to whom we sent this information. If we do not agree that we have made a mistake, we will still agree to include in our file a brief statement from you on the point and we will forward that statement to anyone else who received the earlier information.

Do you have questions

Our information officer, Cynthia Hastings, can be reached at

Cynthia Hastings
21 Arthur Street South
Elmira, Ontario
N3B 2M4

519-669-1641 ext. 26

She will attempt to answer any questions or concerns you might have.

If you wish to make a formal complaint about our privacy practices, you make it in writing to our privacy officers. She will acknowledge receipt of your complaint to ensure that it is investigated promptly and that you are provided with a formal decision and reasons in writing.

This policy is made under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. It is a complex Act and provides some additional exceptions to the privacy principles that are too detailed to set out here. There are some rare exceptions to the commitments set out above.
For more general inquiries, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Canada oversees the administration of the privacy legislation in the private sector. The commissioner also acts as a kind ombudsman for privacy disputes.


© 2009 Waters & Hastings

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