In Ontario, all lawyers are bound by the Law Society of Ontario’s rules of professional conduct. These rules create obligations on legal professionals to ensure certain standards are met. There are rules to ensure lawyers’ competence, their quality of service, how they handle conflicts and even how they handle client’s money. In this post, we are going to examine the lawyer’s duty of confidentiality. The main governing rule in relation to lawyer confidentiality can be found at
3.3-1 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
(a) expressly or impliedly authorized by the client;
(b) required by law or by order of a tribunal of competent jurisdiction to do so;
(c) required to provide the information to the Law Society; or
(d) otherwise permitted by rules 3.3-2 to 3.3-6.
The reason confidentiality is so important for lawyers is it helps to create a trusting lawyer/client relationship and allows for open candid communication.
When individuals are accused of criminal offences, the subject matter is often extremely personal and something that clients will want kept as private as the law allows. If a client does not feel comfortable speaking candidly with their lawyer, this can greatly hinder the lawyer’s ability to put forth the client’s strongest defence.
When your criminal lawyer is asking you questions about your case or your personal information, you should answer each question as openly and honestly as possible. Rule 3.3-1 A is in place to give you confidence that the information you share will stay between you and your lawyer.