Individuals and organizations will soon be able to pursue a
private right of action under Canada's Anti-Spam Law ("CASL"),
and you can be sure class action lawyers are salivating at the
Currently, CASL is enforced by three federal agencies: (i) the
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
("CRTC"), (ii) the Competition Bureau, and (iii) the
Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Beginning on July 1,
2017, Section 47 of CASL will introduce a fourth mode of
enforcement: the private right of action. Individuals and
organizations will be able to file an application with the courts
for a compensation order against one or more persons alleged to
have violated CASL.
For many contraventions of CASL under the private right of
action, courts may order the offender to pay the applicant up to
$1,000,000 for each day on which the contravention
occurred. In addition, applicants are entitled to compensation in
an amount equal to the actual loss, damage suffered or expenses
incurred. CASL explicitly states that the purpose for such orders
are to promote compliance with the act.
Now, more than ever, businesses will want to develop programs to
ensure compliance with CASL. The CRTC provided guidelines in 2014 to ensure compliance with
CASL, recommending that businesses appoint a chief compliance
officer and conduct risk assessments to identify potential risks of
violation. The CRTC also recommends that businesses develop written
policies to mitigate risks of violation and keep records to
recognize, investigate and respond to concerns of
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In less than nine months, on July 1, 2017, persons affected by a contravention of Canada's anti-spam legislation will be able to invoke a private right of action to sue for compensation and potentially substantial statutory damages.
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