Who Can I Tell?

By: Sanjay R. Patel – Barrister, Solicitor and Notary Public

In the game of life it is common for all of us, at some point, to require direction and perhaps representation. The need for legal advice and representation often depends on the issues at stake.

Common issues where legal counsel is engaged are: real estate and property transactions, family law issues of divorce/division of property/child custody disputes, immigration and refugee applications, work and student visa applications and criminal charges of all degrees of seriousness.

A lawyer client relationship is fiduciary. Meaning that it is a professional relationship of trust whereby the lawyer confidentially acts on behalf of the client.

In Ontario, a lawyer’s duty of confidentiality can be described as follows:

“A lawyer at all times shall hold in strict confidence all information concerning the business and affairs of the client acquired in the course of the professional relationship and shall not divulge any such information unless: authorized by the client, required by law, required to provide information to the Law Society of Upper Canada or otherwise permitted by the Rules” (Rules of Professional Conduct 3.3-1)

When you do seek legal advice from a licensed legal practitioner, regardless of the seriousness of the issue, it is comforting for clients to understand that all lawyers in Ontario owe a duty of confidentiality to retained client and prospective clients alike.

This duty of confidentiality is critical to open communication between a client and their chosen lawyer – any information divulged by a client to his or her lawyer can only be used for their benefit; this allows the lawyer to effectively serve the client throughout the course of the professional relationship.

Sanjay R. Patel is an associate at OB Law Chambers and a Barrister, Solicitor and Notary Public practicing in the areas of Family Law, Immigration Law and Criminal Law. The foregoing is intended for information purposes only and you should consult a lawyer if you need legal representation or a formal legal opinion.