(1) Where a law firm operates a Virtual Office, it shall be the duty of all Advocates and Solicitors who are members of the law firm to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the client is clearly informed about the nature and the terms of the services being provided to the client by the law firm, in particular the fact that the law firm operates from a Virtual Office.
(2) The law firm must take all due and necessary precautions to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorised disclosure of, or unauthorised access to, information relating to the representation of a client to another entity by the law firm and the Service Provider. To this end, the law firm must ensure:
(a) there is a non-disclosure agreement or confidentiality agreement entered into between the law firm and the Service Provider in respect of all information and/or documents received or despatched by the Service Provider on behalf of the law firm;
(b) the hardware devices, software systems and security measures of the law firm are sufficiently secure to ensure that client confidentiality is protected at all times;
(c) any photocopying, printing, scanning or any other tasks undertaken through the common office facilities and services provided by the Service Provider must be kept secure and separate from other entities sharing the common facilities and services provided by the Service Provider;
(d) any facsimile, document or information received or despatched by the Service Provider on behalf of the law firm must be kept secure and separate from other entities sharing the common facilities and services provided by the Service Provider;
(e) when utilising a space, room and/or interchangeable meeting room provided by the Service Provider, such space, room and/or interchangeable meeting room is sufficiently discreet and/or secure to ensure that client confidentiality is maintained and protected;
(f) the contents of any mailbox for dropping off of documents provided by the Service Provider is only accessible by the law firm; and
(g) periodic assessment and review of these procedures shall be undertaken to confirm that the arrangements entered into by the law firm continue to comply with the Bar Council’s Rules and Rulings and have not been rendered inadequate by changes in circumstances or technology.
(This Ruling took effect on 17 Aug 2021.)