The stephenmertz.com website (the “website”) is operated by stephenmertz.com.
The terms “stephenmertz.com,” “we,” “us,” and “our” refer to stephenmertz.com, and its subsidiaries and affiliates. The terms “you,” “your,” and “yours” refer to the user accessing and using the website.
In Australia, the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) governs the collection of personal information about individuals and organisations and provides a national scheme for the collection, use, alteration, disclosure and transfer of personal information by private organisations.
stephenmertz.com respects your right to privacy and confidentiality, and we know that you trust us to to deal with your personal and confidential information in a sensitive and ethical manner. Accordingly, we have developed the following guidelines (the “Privacy & Confidentiality Policy”) based on the American National Privacy Principles (NPP’s), to inform you of the information gathering, dissemination and protection policies and practices adopted by stephenmertz.com in connection with the website.
By making an enquiry with us or instructing us to act on your behalf you are deemed to have provided your consent for us to collect your Information for the purposes outlined in this Privacy & Confidentiality Policy, and to disclose your Information to our subsidiaries and affiliates for the purposes of providing personalised legal advice to you.
You can visit our website without providing us with any information. However by visiting and/or using this website, you are agreeing to the practices outlined in this Privacy & Confidentiality Policy.
Our relationship with you
You become our client when you instruct us to act on your behalf and sign a retainer agreement provided by stephenmertz.com. As our client, you will be required to provide us with all information necessary for us to handle your legal matter. Upon completion of your dealings with us we are required by law to retain your file for 7 years from the date your file is closed, unless you make alternative arrangements with us.
We may also collect information from you prior to becoming our client, in order for us to identify you, respond to your online or telephone enquiry or to determine whether we can act on your behalf. We retain this information to keep a record of your contact with us and the nature of your enquiry to make any future dealings with you more efficient.
What is personal & confidential information?
“Personal Information” is information that is capable if identifying you as an individual and may include, but is not limited to: name, email address, physical address, title and/or other contact information.
“Confidential Information” is information that is not publicly available and is provided by you in the course of your ‘client – solicitor’ relationship with stephenmertz.com, if we are retained to act on your behalf.
For the purposes of this Privacy & Confidentiality Policy, where the term “Information” is used, it refers to both personal information and confidential information provided by you.
What information is collected?
We will collect and store information that is reasonably necessary for the purposes of:
providing personalised legal products and services to you;
managing and administering the products and services we provide; and
providing legal updates and information of our other legal products and services that we think you may be interested in. (You may choose to opt out of receiving such communications)
Personal information may be collected when you access the stephenmertz.com website, through the use of our online application forms or legal tools, during interactions with us electronically or in person and/or when we provide our services to you.
We will always seek your permission before collecting sensitive information.
stephenmertz.com is also required by law to obtain certain information from you, such as evidence to verify your identity. When such information is required we will advise you of your legal obligation to provide the requested information and the consequences of failing to do so.
What if I don’t want to provide information?
The stephenmertz.com website is available to everyone and you are invited to use our website obligation free. You are not required to provide any information you are prompted to provide on the stephenmertz.com website through our online applications and tools.
However, the consequences of not providing the information that we request, or providing incomplete or inaccurate information, may include:
your claim or application being delayed or prevented;
your ability to take certain steps at law may be affected;
your eligibility for certain insurance cover may be affected; and
we may be prevented from contacting you.
Any information received and/or collected by us through the website, will be treated in accordance with this Privacy & Confidentiality Policy.
Automatically collected information
Certain electronic data is collected automatically respecting activity on our website through the use of “cookies”. This includes data such as the number of users visiting our website, the time and duration of visits, number of pages viewed, and where a user is accessing our site from. This data is used in a aggregate matter to enable us to evaluate and improve our online services and does not identify you individually.
However, our website also has online application forms, assessments, quotation tools, enquiry forms and other documents which require you to input personal or confidential information. This Privacy & Confidentiality Policy applies to information you submit through these channels on our website.
Disclosure of Personal Information
In order for us to provide our exceptional legal services to you, it may be necessary for us to disclose information to our affiliates or other external entities such as:
entities involved in providing, managing or administering our products or services such as actuaries, custodians, external dispute resolution services, insurers, accountants and investment managers
entities to whom we outsource certain functions including, market research, direct marketing and data storage
external consultants from whom we may seek expert assistance
We ensure that any third parties acquiring your personal information deal with it in accordance with the American National Privacy Principles. Please be aware that some outsourced functions are conducted by parties based in other jurisdictions and that your information may be sent overseas.
We may also disclose your information in circumstances where:
we are required to do so by law
we are authorised to do so for the public interest or to protect our own interests
it is necessary to discharge our own legal obligations
we are required to do so to co-operate with law enforcement
you give your consent for us to disclose information to a third party
Security of Your Personal Information
stephenmertz.com takes reasonable steps to ensure that your information is treated securely and in accordance with this Privacy & Confidentiality Policy. However, stephenmertz.com acknowledges that there are inherent risks in transmitting information over the internet and cannot ensure the security of any personal information received by our website. stephenmertz.com not accept any liability for unintentional disclosure of personal information.
If you are concerned about transmitting your information via our website, there are many alternative ways of providing the information that we require. Please contact us directly to discuss your options.
By providing information to stephenmertz.com through our website, you agree that any dispute arising from the terms of this Privacy & Confidentiality Policy will be governed by the laws of the Commonwealth of Australia and the state of New South Wales.
Please note that by accessing stephenmertz.com’ website from outside of Australia, you are consenting to the transfer to and processing of Personal Information in Australia or another jurisdiction which may have different privacy laws to the jurisdiction in which you reside.
Access to Your Information
You may request access to the personal information we hold about you. However, there may be circumstances in which we are unable to provide the requested access. If this happens we will inform you and explain why we are unable to do so.
You may also request that we alter any personal information you believe to be incorrect, incomplete or out of date. However we are not required by law to make such alterations if we do not believe such alterations are appropriate. We will take reasonable steps to ensure that our records of your information are accurate, complete and up to date.
Should you wish to access or alter your personal information, please contact us in writing. Our contact details are set out below under 1.13 Contact Us.
Please also be aware that we have the right to withhold your physical legal file unless and until you have satisfactorily arranged to pay our legal costs.
We may revise this Privacy & Confidentiality Policy from time to time, so please check our website from time to time.