January 26, 2018

The Ongoing Duty of Confidentiality

Recently we published guidance for licensees on the best way to handle conflicts of interests involving current and former clients once the Superintendent of Real Estate’s new consumer protection rules take effect on March 15th. Since then, some licensees have asked us – what are my obligations to protect a former client’s confidential information?

In this issue of Real Advice, we take a closer look at the duty of confidentiality.

Confidentiality: A Key Duty

As licensees, you assist people with some of the most important transactions of their lives. These transactions can be very complex, but the primary agency duties you must uphold at all times are simple: loyalty, avoiding conflicts of interest, full disclosure and confidentiality.

Many agency duties end once the transaction is over, but one never expires – the continuing duty of confidentiality. Your obligation to protect confidential information continues even after you have stopped providing services to your client.

All Private Information is Confidential

Generally speaking, “confidential information” means any information about a client that is not available to the public. That can include the client’s finances, personal situation, motivations or needs.

Guidelines for Protecting Confidential Information

  1. You may never volunteer to disclose confidential information about a client at any time.
  2. Before agreeing to provide any information to any third party, you must have the consent of your client and it is always prudent to get your client’s consent in writing.
  3. You may be compelled to disclose confidential client information in very limited circumstances, e.g. to the Council or to a court of law.

Read more on this topic in the Professional Standards Manual:

Answers to Your Questions

Visit RECBC’s website for information and advice about how to comply with the new rules in many common scenarios.