I have two users who are identical in roles, profiles, and group memberships. One can see a particular contact; the other cannot.

We are set up so that Accounts have default access of "Private" and Contacts have default access of "Controlled by Parent". Both have "Grant access using hierarchies" checked. There are no sharing rules that apply to the contact in question. We don't use sales teams or territories. The contact in question does have an account. The account is owned by a third user.

I know what causes the difference, but I don't know why. The user who can see the contact is the owner of a case where that contact appears in the "contact name" field. If I change the ownership of the case, the user no longer sees that contact.

I thought I understood how record ownership and sharing work in Salesforce, but this one has me puzzled. I can't find any explanation for this in the Salesforce documentation I've looked at. Can anyone tell me what is happening here?


2 Answers 2


The rule that you're looking for is called "Implicit Sharing", outlined in Built-in Sharing Behavior. The relevant text here is:

Access to a parent account—If you have access to an account’s child record, you have implicit Read Only access to that account.

It also applies in certain other cases, as you've noticed. Simply put, salesforce will provide read-only access to parent records in some relationships when a child record is available to a given user. Implicit sharing does not provide any additional access to other children records of the parent record.


This was the most important line in your question:

The contact in question does have an account.

Welcome to the world of limitations : http://help.salesforce.com/apex/HTViewHelpDoc?id=limits_campaigns_contacts.htm&language=en_US

Contacts that are not linked to an account are always private, regardless of your organization’s sharing model. Only the owner of the contact and administrators can view it. Sharing rules and workflow rules do not apply to private contacts. If your organization uses divisions, private contacts always belong to the global division

  • I'm not sure I see how the shaded quote applies since I've stated that the contact does have an account.
    – Jagular
    May 15, 2014 at 22:51

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