Charles Mabbett of the Office of the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner raises a good question:
Is it acceptable for a lawyer acting for a client to send a very private communication to a work email address of the other party?
A complaint based on exactly this kind of scenario was made to the Legal Complaints Review Officer (LCRO) who provides independent oversight and review of the decisions made by the standards committees of the Law Society and the Society of Conveyancers.
In the complaint BO v DE from September last year, a lawyer acting for a man in a relationship property matter emailed a letter to the man’s ex-wife at her work address. The lawyer had been given the address by his client, the former husband.
According to the LCRO’s decision, the woman was furious at receiving “an intensely personal, embarrassing and defamatory” email at her work address. Through her lawyer, she demanded an apology from her ex-husband’s lawyer and she vigorously denied suggestions in the letter about alcohol abuse and gambling. The woman said the email and attachment had become the property of her employer, and others in her workplace might have access to it.
Read more on their blog to find out what the review concluded.