Client Verifications

"Leading Litigation Lawyers, since 1945"
Bell Temple LLP
393 University Avenue
Suite 1300
Toronto, ON
M5G 1E6

T | 1-416-581-8200
F | 1-416-596-0952

New Client Identification Requirements 2009

As of December 31, 2008, lawyers in most Canadian jurisdictions became subject to newly introduced client identification and client verification guidelines. Law firms in Ontario are now required to identify their clients in a prescribed manner at the start of every new matter or engagement. The various Canadian provincial law societies have adopted these requirements as part of a global fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and fraud. These requirements apply to matters or engagements on which the firm is retained, whether by a new or an existing client.

In regard to client identification information, we will now require the following basic information at the time that we are retained on a new matter. First, for clients who are individuals, we will require your full name, business address and telephone number, home address and telephone number, and occupation. For those clients who are organizations (corporations, partnerships etc) we will require your legal name, business address and telephone number and, with some exceptions, your incorporation or business identification number, the place of its issue, as well as a description of your business activities. We will also require the full names, positions and contact information of those individuals authorized to instruct us on your behalf. If you are acting for or representing a third party, we will require similar information in regard to that third party. For our existing clients, we already possess much of that information, but there may be gaps to be filled.

In consideration of the client verification requirements, if you require us to engage in, or give instructions in respect of, receiving, paying or transferring funds or negotiable securities, we are required (unless one of several exemptions apply) to take reasonable steps to verify the identity of our client, the individual who is authorized to instruct us on behalf of an organizational client, and any third party our client is acting for or representing. We will verify the identity of our client through reliable independent source documents, such as a passport or driver's licence in the case of an individual, a certificate of status or current information return in the case of a corporation or charter documents in the case of other organizations. We are further required to retain a copy of these aforementioned documents.

In addition, if we are required to verify the identity of an organization, we will require details in regard to the directors similar to those noted above. We may also require information about shareholders.

The above guidelines, in many respects, codifies the steps that a prudent lawyer would take in a normal course to verify client identity. We will minimize any inconvenience for any existing or prospective client(s) that results from this new regime while also securing private identification and verification information provided to us in the same manner that we safeguard all other client information.

We ask that you please contact us directly if you have any concerns or questions in regard to any of the above.