Canada: Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) Is Coming Into Force On July 1, 2014 – Some Suggestions For Compliance Preparation

Last Updated: January 28 2014
Article by Susan M. Manwaring, J. Andrew Sprague and Andrew Valentine

On December 4, 2013, the Government of Canada announced that the anti-spam provisions of Canada's anti-spam legislation (CASL) will come into force on July 1, 2014. We have reported on developments with CASL in previous issues of this Newsletter. As a result of the July 1st in force date, Canadian charitable and not-for-profit organizations will have less than seven months to put into place their anti-spam CASL compliance strategies.

Will CASL apply to you and your organization?

CASL's broad scope and reach means that it has the potential to impact every Canadian charitable and not-for-profit organization. CASL applies to commercial electronic messages, which means e-mails, texts, social media messages or any other form of electronic communication to third parties, whether they are businesses, consumers, members, volunteers or donors. CASL's definition of "commercial" includes activities carried on without the prospect of gain.

Why should CASL matter to you and your charitable or not-for-profit organization?

Charitable and not-for-profit organizations will want to ensure that they are CASL compliant because non-compliance may lead to significant consequences and penalties, including: (i) the imposition of major monetary penalties; (ii) corporate officers and directors being held personally liable for corporate violations; (iii) vicarious liability arising for violations committed by employees or agents; (iv) a private right of action (including the possibility of a class-action lawsuit) against an organization and the individuals who work or volunteer for the organization; and (v) reputational risks.

Exemption for communications with a "primary purpose of raising funds"

During public consultations that were held by the federal government, numerous charitable and not-for-profit advocates had, in an effort to soften CASL's impact on the sector, strongly advocated for numerous changes to the draft CASL regulations. Those efforts led to the introduction of one exemption specific to the application of CASL's anti-spam provisions to charities that are registered under the Income Tax Act.

CASL's anti-spam provisions will not apply to an electronic message "that is sent by or on behalf of a registered charity as defined in subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act and the message has as its primary objective raising funds for the charity." Non-profit organizations will be unable to rely upon this exemption because it only applies to registered charities. Regrettably, many of the other proposed changes were rejected by the government.

Additionally, the language in the exempting provision raises a number of questions as to the scope of the exemption. First, it is unclear whether "raising funds" – the language used in the CASL Regulations – has the same meaning as "fundraising" for the purposes of T3010 reporting by registered charities. Many charities publish and distribute newsletters and other communications to their supporters and stakeholders that are primarily in furtherance of their charitable purposes, but which also include a short appeal for donations. Under CRA's Guidance on Fundraising by Registered Charities, charities can report such expenditures as charitable or, if appropriate, allocate the expenditure between charitable and fundraising expenditures on their T3010.

It is also possible that the phrase "raising funds" will be interpreted more broadly than "fundraising" for charity tax reporting purposes. If so, communications that could result in funds being raised for the charity – but which would not normally be viewed as "fundraising" – could be caught by the exemption. For example, communications related to tuition fees for universities or ticket sales by arts charities could be considered to have a primary purpose of raising funds, even though such communications would not normally be considered fundraising from a CRA reporting standpoint.

Various questions are raised by the wording. For example: When will such donor communications be considered to have a "primary purpose" of "raising funds" for the purposes of CASL? Must the entirety of the expenditure be allocated to fundraising? Will the exemption apply if more than 50% of the expenditure is allocated to fundraising?

The new exemption is a welcome step in recognizing the difficulty that CASL presents for the charitable sector. That said, there do remain a number of questions still to be answered. We hope that further communication from the federal government will provide insight into the scope of this exemption.

Other Exemptions

One or more of the other exemptions from compliance with CASL's anti-spam provisions may be available to individuals and/or organizations, depending on their particular circumstances. Messages sent: (i) by a business to an existing customer; (ii) internally within a business; (iii) in regard to a legal obligation or a legal right; (vi) to respond to an inquiry or a referral; (v) within an existing "family relationship" or "personal relationship" (as defined); (vi) where there is an "existing business relationship" (as defined); or (vii) where there is an "existing non-business relationship" (as defined), may be exempted under CASL if all of the necessary criteria are met.

New consents are required

Consent under CASL can be express or implied. Unlike Canadian privacy laws which permit "opt out" consent for less sensitive types of information, such as receipt of marketing information, this form of consent is not sufficient under CASL for the receipt of marketing information by electronic means.

Next Steps for your organization

While developing their CASL compliance strategies, there are a number of steps that charitable and not-for-profit organizations can take.

Step 1: If an organization has not already done so, it should conduct an audit to collect information about its current electronic communication practices.

Step 2: If an organizations has not already done so, it should review and update its privacy policies, including its website privacy policies (where applicable), and the terms of use/terms of service for their website (where applicable).

Step 3: Once an organization has completed an audit of its current electronic communication practices, the next step should be to consider CASL's requirements and assess what changes might be required to an organization's current policies, procedures, practices, processes, and/or computer systems and networks in order to ensure that the organization is CASL compliant.

Step 4: Utilize available resources. The federal government's main CASL/anti-spam website is located at, and it contains information that charitable and not-for-profit organizations may find of interest.

On January 15, 2015, CASL's provisions relating to computer programs will come into force, and, in a future article, we will provide some details on how those provisions will also impact charitable and not-for-profit organizations.

Miller Thomson LLP is developing resource materials, and CASL information will be available on In future issues of Miller Thomson LLP's Charities and Not-for-Profit Newsletter, we will be providing more details about how CASL's provisions will impact charitable and not-for-profit organizations, and we will also offer compliance suggestions.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Susan M. Manwaring
Andrew Valentine
In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions