Canada: CASL Overview

Last Updated: June 11 2014
Article by Christene Hirschfeld

On July 1, 2014, the bulk of Canada's Anti-Spam legislation will come into effect. If your business or organization sends electronic messages to communicate information, you need to be aware of this law.

Many people refer to the legislation as CASL. The provisions with the greatest application to your organization are the anti-spam provisions. There are provisions dealing with altering transmission data and installation of computer programs, but this update focuses on the anti-spam provisions.


The legislation is complicated. This note highlights the most important parts in a simple way. It does not cover all the details, so when you are thinking about how this new law affects you, please review the legislation and regulations in their entirety, and seek counsel, to ensure that you are in compliance. Our firm is ready to help, and Christene Hirschfeld, Q.C. is knowledgeable in this area.

Who do the anti-spam provisions affect?

CASL's anti-spam provisions affect anyone who sends commercial electronic messages ("CEMs") to, from or within Canada. A CEM is any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity, regardless of any expectation of profit. The term is tech-neutral; in other words, it applies to emails, text messages, social media and other similar forms of communication. Unless exempt under the legislation, a sender must have the consent (either express or implied) of the recipient to send a CEM.

Why should you care?

It's never good when a business is reported to have breached a federal statute. Apart from the bad press associated with a violation of CASL, you should also be concerned about the penalties. The maximum penalty for a breach by an individual is $1,000,000, and for an organization, $10,000,000. Further, in 2017, there will be a private right of action. This means that the person who claims his or her rights were violated can sue you. Further, not only is the individual or organization sending the offending CEM accountable, so are the officers and directors of the organization, and employers are responsible for the actions of their employees. This means that any of these individuals may also be fined and, starting in 2017, sued.

Mandatory Content of CEMs

Subject to certain exceptions, each CEM must contain the following information:

  • The name, telephone number and email or web address of the sender, its affiliates and beneficiaries;
  • A physical mailing address which is correct for at least 60 days after the message is sent; and
  • An unsubscribe mechanism.

The unsubscribe mechanism must be able to be "readily performed". This means that it must easily and quickly accessible and be simple and easy to use.

The legislation requires that any opt-out or unsubscribe request be honoured "without delay" and, at a maximum, no later than 10 business days after it is received.


Unless you fit within one of the exceptions, you are required to have the recipient's consent before sending a CEM. There are two categories of exceptions:

  • Exceptions where neither consent nor mandatory content rules apply; and
  • Exceptions where mandatory content rules apply but consent is not required.

Exceptions to consent and mandatory content rules

You are exempt from the consent and mandatory content requirements if you are sending a CEM to:

  • One with whom you have a personal relationship;
  • One with whom you have a family relationship;
  • The CEM is sent solely as an inquiry or application regarding recipient's existing commercial activity;
  • The CEM is between employees, representatives or consultants of your organization regarding your organization's activities;
  • The CEM is sent to enforce a right; or
  • The CEM is sent by a charity and its primary purpose is fundraising.

Please note that this list is not complete, but it should cover all examples that are relevant for your purposes.

The factors to be considered in determining whether one has a personal relationship include:

  • direct, voluntary, 2 way communications;
  • shared interests, experiences, opinions and info;
  • frequency of communications;
  • length of time since the communication;
  • whether you have met in person.

According to the legislation, in order for a family relationship to exist, the parties must be related by marriage, common-law partnership or legal parent-child relationship, and must have direct, voluntary two-way communication. You will note that sibling relationships and relationships between grandparents and grandchildren, and aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews are not included in this definition.

Other exceptions to the requirements for mandatory content and consent include when the CEM is sent:

  • solely as an inquiry or application regarding recipient's existing commercial activities;
  • between employees, reps, consultants, franchisees of an organization re the organization's activities;
  • sent to enforce a right; and
  • sent by a charity AND its primary purpose is fund raising.

Exceptions where mandatory content does apply but consent is not required

  • You are exempt from the consent, but the mandatory content requirements continue to apply if you are sending a CEM to:
  • provide a requested quotation;
  • facilitate, complete or confirm commercial transaction that recipient previously agreed to enter;
  • provide warranty, recall or safety info about a purchase; or
  • provide info about existing employment relationship or related benefits.

In addition, if it is suggested that you contact someone, you do not require consent to send the first CEM if:

  • The referrer has an existing business (as defined below), existing non-business (as defined below), family or personal relationship with the person you are contacting; and
  • The CEM discloses the full name of the referrer; and
  • The CEM states that it is being sent as a result of the referral.

Express Consent

Unless you fit within one of the exceptions, you require the express or implied consent of the recipient in order to send a CEM. It should be noted that a CEM asking for consent is still a CEM; in other words, you need consent in order to send it.

Consent can be oral but only if it is verified by a third party or recorded. Consent must not be bundled with terms and conditions. This means that on your website, you cannot have the individual click to agree to accept the terms and conditions of, for example, membership in your club or use of your facilities and agree to receive CEMs. Further, the system requires that people opt-in and not opt-out. People must take an active step to signify their consent. This could include checking a box or typing in a word.

Implied Consent

Examples of implied consent include the following:

  • Existing business relationship – e.g.
    • Purchased services within the past 2 years;
    • An enquiry within the past 6 months;
  • Existing non-business relationship if in the last 2 years – i.e.
    • A donation or gift to or volunteer work for a charity or political party; or
    • Membership in a "club", "association" or "voluntary organization".
  • A club, association or voluntary organization is a non-profit organization organized and operated exclusively for the social welfare, civic improvement, pleasure or recreation or for any purpose other than personal profit, if no part of its income is payable to any owner, member or shareholder.


The new legislation will be enforced by the following Federal Government agencies:

  • CRTC – administrative penalties, spam, botnets, malware, network reorganization
  • Competition Bureau – false and misleading online representations
  • Office of the Privacy Commissioner – address harvesting, spyware

Organizations must take CASL seriously.

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.

In association with
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
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

*** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.