New Anti-Spam Laws Coming Into Force July 1


This post was written prior to our January 2017 merger, under our previous firm name, MacPherson Leslie & Tyerman LLP.

On July 1, 2014, Canadians will need to comply with some of the most stringent anti-spam laws in the world because Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (“CASL”) will be coming into force. CASL prohibits the sending of commercial electronic messages, such as emails, unless the recipient has consented (implicitly or explicitly). The penalties for non-compliance are significant and directors and officers can be found personally liable.

WHO NEEDS TO COMPLY? EVERYONE.

CASL applies broadly to individuals, corporations, unincorporated associations, and even not-for-profit organizations.

You and your organization will need to comply with CASL if you use electronic messages to engage in business transactions or to promote your business. CASL applies to messages:

  • Advertising the sale or purchase of goods or services
  • Advertising a business, investment or gaming opportunity
  • Promoting an individual or business that is engaged in a commercial activity

CASL also applies to various forms of electronic messages, including:

  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Instant messages
  • Direct message on social media sites

HOW TO COMPLY? DEVELOP A FORMAL POLICY AND PROCESS.

Senders of commercial electronic messages need to ensure they have consent before sending messages. CASL allows for consent to be implied in several situations, including when there is a business or non-business relationship. However, recipients must be provided with a simple means of “unsubscribing” from receiving future commercial electronic messages. CASL also requires that senders of commercial electronic messages be clearly identified, along with the sender’s contact information. To ensure your organization is compliant with CASL, we recommend that you work with your legal counsel to develop an internal policy that includes employee training, management of email marketing lists of consenting recipients and recipients who have withdrawn consent.

WHAT IS THE RISK OF NOT COMPLYING? EMBARRASSMENT/LEGAL PENALTIES.

Aside from the reputational damage that may flow from being a “spammer”, the penalties for violating CASL are significant and directors and officers are potentially exposed to personal liability. The monetary penalties are up to $1,000,000 for individuals and $10,000,000 for organizations. Additionally, starting in July of 2017, recipients will have the right to sue persons who send commercial electronic messages without consent.

To avoid potential penalties, ensure your organization is compliant before CASL comes into effect on July 1, 2014.

For assistance in developing a policy and procedures for your organization, contact a member of our CASL Compliance Team: