Confidential Family Financial Disclosure Lawyers help keep sensitive financial information protected so a business or venture thrives and is not damaged by it being revealed or by it falling into the wrong hands. MacLean Law’s top-rated Confidential Family Financial Disclosure Lawyers have obtained sealing orders in high profile cases as well as non-disclosure agreements and court orders. In a recent estate dispute worth approximately 40 million dollars, involving 10 parties, our lawyers successfully obtained a publication ban and the first sealing order in BC that seals the entire file (as opposed to just some information in the file) in the family and estate law context. In today’s blog, senior Calgary and Toronto family lawyer Peter Graburn explains the options to protect you and your family’s privacy.
Vancouver Confidential Family Financial Disclosure Lawyers 1 877 602 9900
Full disclosure of financial information is a fundamental principle in Canadian family law. In a previous article on financial disclosure Calgary Alberta Family Lawyer Financial Disclosure, we indicated the Supreme Court of Canada has held separating parties have a duty to make full and honest disclosure of all their financial information when negotiating or litigating their family law disputes (Rick v. Brandsema,  1 SCR 295). As indicated in subsequent articles, non-disclosure of financial assets is viewed as the “cancer” of family law that will not be tolerated by lawyers or the Courts.
But what if that financial information (particularly corporate and business information) is private and highly confidential? What if public disclosure of that information (or disclosure to specific third parties) would cause embarrassment or do serious harm to the person or corporation it refers to? There are several ways to try to prevent public disclosure of confidential financial information, including:
- Legislation – Various Canadian provinces have rules and legislation to maintain confidential information disclosed in family law proceedings. In British Columbia, Section 5 of the Family Law Act provides that while a party must provide “full and true information” to resolve a family law dispute, that information must not be used except as necessary to resolve that dispute. In Alberta, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench recently (October 15, 2017) passed Practice Note 10 which restricts access to personal information (including financial information) on a family law file to the parties and their lawyers (as well as media accredited but the Court) without a Court Order here is the BC practice direction with a checklist to consider);
- Implied Undertaking – It is a general rule in Canadian law (whether family or other disputes) that there is an obligation of the parties to keep confidential all information and documents acquired during the dispute, no matter how such information was obtained (ie. through financial statements, documentary evidence or Questioning, etc.). Furthermore, such information can only be used in the case it was disclosed under and not in any other proceeding or for any other purpose. In Ontario, this “deemed undertaking” rule has been specifically incorporated into Ontario’s Family Law Rules;
- Confidentiality Agreement – Another way to (try to) ensure confidentiality of disclosure of financial information in family law disputes is to make such disclosure subject to a confidentiality agreement. However, such agreements are not statutorily enforced (like under BC’s Family Law Act or Ontario’s Family Law Rules, above) and breaches of the Agreement must therefore be enforced through (further) civil litigation;
- Sealing Order – Finally, a more extreme way to safeguard confidential information is to bring an application for a Court Order preventing public disclosure of the information. A Sealing Order may be granted if it is found the release of the confidential information poses a serious risk of harm to an important interest (including business and commercial interests), particularly where other alternatives (ie. a confidentiality agreement) would not be sufficient to prevent the risk of harm (see the 2002 Supreme Court of Canada case of Sierra Club of Canada v. Canada (Minister of Finance), 2002 SCC 41). Therefore, the test to obtain such a Sealing Order is high as (is indicated at the beginning of this article) full disclosure of financial information is a duty and basic principle in resolving family law disputes.
Calgary Confidential Family Financial Disclosure Lawyers 1 877 602 9900
Confidential Family Financial Disclosure Lawyers know that while there is a duty to make full and honest disclosure of financial information in the course of disputes during the breakdown of a family relationship, this information is (always) private and (sometimes) highly confidential. One way to avoid these conflicting interests is to resolve family law disputes out of Court by using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes including Mediation, Collaborative Law, and Mediation / Arbitration. While these processes can only be pursued on consent of both ex-spouses, they may go a long way to ensuring the confidentiality of financial disclosure information.
Leading Canadian Family Lawyers 1 877 602 9900
MacLean Law is a leading Canadian boutique family law firm focussing on high conflict, medium to high net worth family law. Maclean Law has Offices across Canada in downtown Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, West Kelowna, Surrey, Richmond, Victoria, and Fort St. John.
Confidentiality of financial information is an important aspect of family law disputes. Confidential Family Financial Disclosure Lawyers assist their clients to understand the obligation to produce financial disclosure upon relationship breakdown, and the different ways and processes which may be used to keep such information confidential.