McCarthy Family Law (MFL) Privacy Policy

1.1  Our Commitment to Privacy

McCarthy Family Law (MFL) is committed to respecting the privacy of personal and sensitive information.  We are bound by the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

This policy sets out how we handle the personal information we possess from clients, prospective clients and other contacts.

1.2  Restrictions on personal information

You may browse information from the firm’s website without providing any personal information; however it may not be possible to provide the full range of services offered by us if the required personal information is not provided.

1.3  What do we mean by personal information?

Throughout this policy, “personal information” means information about you which makes your identity apparent or reasonably ascertained. For example – your name, date of birth, home and/or email address, telephone number/s and medical history.

1.4  What do we mean by sensitive information?

“Sensitive information” is a type of personal information that is given a higher level of protection under the APPs.  It includes information about your race or ethnicity, your political opinions, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs.  It also includes health information.

1.5  Information from third parties

On occasions we may need to collect personal information about you from a third party.  For example, we may collect personal information from:

  •     treating practitioners, hospitals and clinics which have provided treatment to you
  •     a company for whom you have worked
  •     an individual or organisation that has referred you to MFL or vice versa,

If we obtain information about you from third parties we will protect it under the terms of this policy and take reasonable steps to ensure you are aware of the purposes for which the personal information is being collected and any organisations to which the information might be disclosed.

If you provide us with information from third parties, you warrant that you have the consent of the third party to do so.

1.6  Why do we collect information?

We may collect personal or sensitive information about you at various stages of your engagement from your initial contact with the firm, during our conduct of your case and at its conclusion.

MFL only collects personal information essential for its functions. For example, when:

  •     providing legal services as instructed
  •     communicating with you
  •     evaluating our ability to act for prospective clients
  •     accessing mailing lists which include your contact details
  •     conducting firm services such as research (including market research), planning, service development, security, testing and risk management
  •     processing referrals for new business or responding to website communications
  •     in certain circumstances, we may also collect sensitive information about you including:
  •     memberships of professional or trade associations
  •     health information
  •     religious beliefs or affiliations


1.7  Duty of Confidentiality and Obligations of Non-Disclosure

The requirement to keep client information confidential is a fundamental duty owed by solicitors to their clients and one which is enshrined in the profession’s conduct rules  [1].

Accordingly, we will not disclose confidential client information to third parties other than as set out in this policy (see below at 1.8) unless:

  •     you authorise disclosure
  •     we are compelled by law to disclose
  •     it will prevent imminent serious physical harm to you or another
  •     the sole purpose is to avoid the probable commission of a serious offence
  •     it is to obtain advice about our legal or ethical obligations

In many cases, information which the firm holds will be subject to legal professional privilege and will therefore is not subject to an obligation to disclose.

1.8  Use and Disclosure of Personal Information

MFL will use or disclose personal information that it collects from you only:

  •     in accordance with this policy,
  •     where you have consented to its use or disclosure,
  •     for the main purpose(s) for which the information is collected, or for related purposes for which you would reasonably expect the firm to use or disclose the personal information. For example:
    1.     to obtain instructions from prospective clients
    2.     to provide you with legal advice
    3.     to receive services from you or your organisation
    4.     to advise you of legal developments and information
    5.     to invoice you or to send invoice reminder notices

MFL may disclose your personal information:

  •     to barristers or experts engaged in the matter
  •     to other law practices within Australia should the firm be required to refer the matter
  •     to; or government bodies if required during the course of providing the requested legal services
  •     to other clients where the firm has collected that information in the course of providing legal services to those clients
  •     for the purposes of providing information, products, services or marketing to you
  •     to third parties. For example to:
    1.     contractors we engage to store and archive completed client files
    2.     service providers who assist in providing the firm’s website and services (such as internet and technology service providers, auditors, mail houses and delivery companies)
    3.     organisations with whom the firm has co-promotion arrangements (and any agents used in administering such arrangements)
  •     In these situations, the firm prohibits the third party from using or disclosing your personal information except for the specific purpose for which it is supplied.
  •     For market research, planning, service development, security, testing and risk management as part of improving client services
  •     As part of the operation, administration, development or enhancement of the MFL website.

1.9  Our Website

We collect statistical information on website activity but this is not used to identify users.  We do not use cookies.

MFL’s website may contain links to the websites of other organisations such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Linked websites are responsible for their own privacy practices and if you choose to access those sites through links on our website, you should consult their privacy statement.

1.10 Security

MFL uses a number of methods to protect the security of personal information. However, because the internet is not completely secure, the firm cannot guarantee the security of any information transmitted to it via the internet.

Once personal information comes into our possession, we will take reasonable steps to protect that information from unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.

Your personal information may be stored either in hard copy or electronically in the firm’s computer software or systems. We use cloud computing services for e-mail storage but not for other data.

The firm uses locks and security systems to physically protect personal information in addition to firewalls and other security systems to control access to our computer systems.

1.11 Requests for Access to Information

Generally MFL will provide you with access to your personal information on request. If access is required, we will request as much detail as possible to assist in its retrieval. We may seek to recover our costs in providing the access requested. If we cannot provide the access sought, we will notify you of the reasons.

1.12 Maintaining Personal Information

MFL endeavours to make sure that the personal information it collects is accurate and up-to-date. Should the personal information which the firm holds be inaccurate or out-of-date, you may be requested to provide updated information for use in our firm’s records.

1.13 Retaining Personal Information

MFL is legally required to retain files for at least seven (7) years from the date we close a legal file.  Sometimes we are required to retain documents for longer such as documents which inform the making of a Will.

1.14 Questions and Complaints

Questions or feedback about this policy or complaints about how the firm has handled personal information are to be bought to the attention of the Principal, Jane McCarthy.