Department of Justice Guidelines on Security for Domestic Legal Agents: Protected Information and Assets
5. Individual Security Screening
5.1 Reliability Status Screening
Individuals must hold a Government of Canada-grantedFootnote 7 Reliability Status screening, and must have a need to know, prior to accessing Protected information, assets and secure work sites in the context of a legal agent appointment. The CSO must ensure that all individuals requiring such access, in accordance with the terms defined by the Department in the letter(s) of appointment, are security screened to Reliability Status and that access is limited to those individuals. This includes each member of a firm’s authorized legal team, as well as any support staff who also require access.
5.2 Process to Obtain a Reliability Status Screening
Security screening for Reliability Status appraises an individual’s honesty and reliability, and whether he or she can be trusted to protect the Government of Canada’s interests. The Department’s screening activities can include a criminal record check as well as a credit check, and may require fingerprinting and/or other verifications. Where necessary, the CSO is responsible for facilitating the resolution of issues and arranging interviews with individuals where the Department requires clarification for the purposes of conducting the screening process.
To initiate the screening activities required for Reliability Status, individuals must complete a Personnel Screening Consent and Authorization Form (TBS 330-23).
In completing the form, individuals must provide five (5) years of verifiable background information and sign and date the form to consent to the disclosure of the personal information provided. The CSO is responsible for verifying the applicant’s identity and background information, ensuring that the form is completed properly, and submitting the form to the Department along with any other associated documentation.
5.3 Notification and Security Briefings
Upon completion of the required security checks, the Department issues a Security Screening Certificate and Briefing Form (TBS 330-47) to certify the granting of a Reliability Status screening. The CSO is responsible for ensuring that each individual is briefed on his or her security responsibilities and that the individual signs the form confirming that the briefing has occurred and that he or she understands and agrees to comply with the security requirements. The CSO signs and dates the form, and submits the form to the Department. The CSO is also responsible for ensuring that the individual is provided with a copy of the Guidelines as part of the briefing process.
A Reliability Status screening is granted for a period of ten (10) years.
5.4 Transferability of Security Screenings
Where an individual holds a valid Reliability Status screening granted by a Government of Canada department or agency other than the Department of Justice, the Department may accept the screening at face value rather than redo the process.
To facilitate validation of an existing security screening, the Department requires, at a minimum:
- a copy of the signed Security Screening Certificate and Briefing Form issued by the granting department or agency;
- date of birth; and,
- a statement that there are no reportable changesFootnote 8 in their personal circumstances, since the Reliability Status was granted.
The Department notifies the CSO and/or individual, in writing once the screening has been validated and the transfer has been accepted.
5.5 Change of Circumstances Reporting
Individuals must report information related to a change in personal circumstances that may affect the status of the Reliability Status granted. At a minimum, these circumstances include:
- where a change has occurred in criminal record status (criminal conviction, suspension of a criminal record, other judicial prohibitions);
- involvement with law enforcement (e.g., suspect in a criminal investigation, arrest);
- association with criminals; and,
- where a significant change has occurred in financial situation (e.g., bankruptcy).
Where an individual who holds a Government of Canada-granted security screening, leaves the employment of or association with one firm to join another, the individual must report the change of firm to the Department. The individual may request the transfer or duplication of his or her Reliability Status screening to the new firm.
The CSO is responsible for ensuring that all relevant changes to individuals’ personal circumstances are reported immediately to the Department. As well, the CSO is responsible for ensuring that a Personnel Screening Consent and Authorization Form is appropriately completed and submitted to request:
- an “update”, where an individual’s Reliability Status screening is due for expiry and requires a renewal;
- an “upgrade” of an individual’s screening to a higher security level, further to a legal agent appointment requirement;
- a “transfer” or duplication of an individual’s Reliability Status screening from one firm to another; and,
- “re-activation” of an individual’s Reliability Status screening that has been administratively terminated within the last two (2) years.
5.6 File Retention
The CSO must ensure that individual security screening files are appropriately safeguarded and must maintain a current list of all security-screened employees. This list must be made available to the Department upon request. The CSO must also retain on file copies of all documents and records of all correspondence on security briefings for review by the Department if required.
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