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The author of this blog, David T.S. Fraser, is a Canadian privacy lawyer who practices with the firm of McInnes Cooper. He is the author of the Physicians' Privacy Manual. He has a national and international practice advising corporations and individuals on matters related to Canadian privacy laws.

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Please note that I am only able to provide legal advice to clients. I am not able to provide free legal advice. Any unsolicited information sent to David Fraser cannot be considered to be solicitor-client privileged.

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The views expressed herein are solely the author's and should not be attributed to his employer or clients. Any postings on legal issues are provided as a public service, and do not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. The author makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained herein or linked to. Nothing herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of competent counsel.

This web site is presented for informational purposes only. These materials do not constitute legal advice and do not create a solicitor-client relationship between you and David T.S. Fraser. If you are seeking specific advice related to Canadian privacy law or PIPEDA, contact the author, David T.S. Fraser.

Monday, January 05, 2009

CBSA opens lawyer's mail 

Cyndee Cherniak, at Trade Lawyers Blog, reports on receiving a peice of mail addressed to her -- clearly a lawyer -- that had been opened and "inspected" by the Canada Border Services Agency. She is understandably angry.

See: BEWARE - Canada Border Services Agency WILL Read Lawyer's Mail.

This is a gross affront to solicitor-client privilege and privacy. In my view, mail that is clearly sent to a lawyer should be subject to additional protection. Given the important role of privilege in our legal system, warrants to search lawyers' offices require additional safeguards. Surely similar protections for mail to lawyers are warranted.


1/05/2009 10:23:00 PM  :: (3 comments)  ::  Backlinks
I certainly share the concern, but I'm not certain in this case that the package was "clearly" being sent to a lawyer. As Todgham Cherniak notes, the package was addressed to her by name, with the words "counsel" and "Lang Michener LLP" appended. The only real clue in the label then is "counsel" - and I'm not sure that's an immediate tip-off to everyone that they are dealing with something addressed to a lawyer. Certainly the mere presence of Cyndee's name and the name of her firm would be highly unlikely to trigger recognition in a front-line CBSA employee. Perhaps we should encourage a protocol whereby cross-border communications are stamped "solicitor-client privilege - confidential", or something similar?
So to bypass customs by say a "less than honest person" you just have to stamp "solicitor-client privilege - confidential" on it & it's exempt? With CBSA's security cleaance, unless it's a threat to Canadian security, I don't think they care what it says. If it's entering the country I'd rather have a small breach of privacy that a potential huge breach of security. Just my 2 cents.....
I believe that this "lawyer" should read up on the customs act, and they will find out that CBSA can open, or cause to open anything that is being imported or exported to/from Canada. This also includes diplomatic mail if it is warranted, and I do believe that is a bit more important than a simple lawyer who doesn't understand the law
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