Canada: CASL Compliance Programs – Preparing For Litigation

Last Updated: October 20 2016
Article by Bradley J. Freedman

Most Read Contributor in Canada, November 2016

 In less than nine months, on July 1, 2017, persons affected by a contravention of Canada's anti-spam legislation (commonly known as "CASL") will be able to invoke a private right of action to sue for compensation and potentially substantial statutory damages. Organizations should assess their CASL compliance and prepare to respond to CASL lawsuits by reviewing and updating their CASL compliance program.

CASL

CASL creates a comprehensive regime of offences, enforcement mechanisms and potentially severe penalties (including personal liability for employers, corporate directors and officers) designed to prohibit unsolicited or misleading commercial electronic messages ("CEMs"), the unauthorized commercial installation and use of computer programs on another person's computer system and other forms of online fraud (such as identity theft and phishing).

For most organizations, the key parts of CASL are the rules for CEMs. Subject to limited exceptions, CASL creates an opt-in regime that prohibits the sending of a CEM unless the recipient has given consent (express or implied in limited circumstances) to receive the CEM and the CEM complies with prescribed formalities (including an effective and promptly implemented unsubscribe mechanism) and is not misleading. An organization that sends a CEM has the onus of proving that the recipient consented to receive the CEM.

Contravention of CASL's CEM rules can result in severe administrative monetary penalties (up to $1 million per violation for individuals and up to $10 million per violation for organizations), civil liability through a private right of action (commencing July 1, 2017) and vicarious liability on employers, directors and officers who are unable to establish that they exercised due diligence to prevent CASL contraventions.

The private right of action may be invoked by any person who alleges they were affected by a CASL contravention, including the sending of a CEM without consent. If a court finds an organization liable for a CASL contravention, then the court may order the organization to pay the claimant compensation for actual loss, damage and expense plus potentially substantial statutory (non-compensatory) damages. For example, a contravention of CASL's CEM rules can result in statutory damages of $200 for each contravention, not exceeding $1,000,000 for each day on which the contravention occurred. CASL provides that the amount of statutory damages must be determined in light of all relevant circumstances.

REGULATORY GUIDANCE FOR CASL COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS

CASL gives the Canadian Radio-television and Tele-communications Commission ("CRTC") regulatory and enforcement authority regarding CEMs and other matters. CRTC has encouraged organizations to develop and implement a credible and effective CASL compliance program as a risk management strategy to reduce the likelihood of CASL contraventions and to help establish a due diligence defense and ameliorate potential sanctions if a CASL contravention occurs.

CRTC's Compliance and Enforcement Information Bulletin CRTC 2014-326 – Guidelines to help businesses develop corporate compliance programs (2014-06-19) provides helpful guidance on a CASL compliance program. Following is a summary of CRTC's key recommendations:

  • Senior management involvement: For large organizations, senior management should play an active and visible role in fostering a culture of compliance, and a member of senior management should be named as chief compliance officer responsible and accountable for the development, management and execution of a CASL compliance program. Small and medium-sized organizations should identify a point person responsible and accountable for CASL compliance.
  • Risk assessment: An organization should conduct a risk assessment to identify CASL compliance risks, and then develop and apply policies and procedures to mitigate those risks.
  • Written policy: An organization should develop and implement a written policy for compliance with CASL, including: (1) internal compliance procedures; (2) staff training; (3) auditing and monitoring mechanisms; (4) procedures for dealing with third parties (e.g. partners and subcontractors); (5) record keeping (e.g. records of consent); and (6) employee feedback. The policy should be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect legal developments and address non-compliance issues and new services or products.
  • Record keeping: An organization should establish appropriate record keeping practices to help the organization: (1) identify potential non-compliance issues; (2) investigate and respond to complaints; (3) respond to questions about the organization's practices and procedures; (4) audit/monitor the organization's compliance program; (5) identify the need for corrective actions and demonstrate that those actions were implemented; and (6) establish a due diligence defence. The records should relate to all aspects of CASL compliance, including CEM policies and procedures, evidence of express consent, unsubscribe requests and actions, email campaigns, staff training (including signed training completion acknowledgements), audits and corrective actions.
  • Training: An organization should establish an effective training program (including periodic refresher training and training updates) for all current and new staff at all levels (including managers and executives) so that staff understand relevant CASL rules and the organization's CASL compliance policy and related procedures. An organization should regularly monitor staff performance to evaluate the effectiveness of the training.
  • Legal developments: An organization should monitor changes to CASL and regulatory guidelines, and modify the organization's CASL compliance policy and related procedures and training accordingly.
  • Quality assurance: An organization should establish a documented quality assurance program, including lawful auditing and monitoring, to prevent and detect CASL contraventions and assess the effectiveness of the CASL compliance program.
  • Complaints: An organization should establish a complaint-handling system so that individuals can submit complaints and the organization can resolve complaints within a reasonable or predetermined period.
  • Corrective action: An organization should have a disciplinary code to address CASL contraventions, and should respond to CASL contraventions with corrective or disciplinary action, or refresher training, as appropriate.

CRTC's Enforcement Advisory – Notice for businesses and individuals on how to keep records of consent (2016-07-27) provides additional guidance for keeping records of consent to receive CEMs. (see BLG Bulletin – Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation – Regulatory Guidance).

COMMENT

CRTC's Guidelines acknowledge that not all recommended components of a CASL compliance program will be necessary or practicable for every organization, and that each organization must adapt the recommended program components to the organization's particular circumstances. Nevertheless, CRTC enforcement officers and courts will likely consider CRTC's Guidelines as indicating best practices for CASL compliance. For those reasons, CRTC's Guidelines are a useful tool for any organization that wishes to improve its CASL compliance program.

About BLG

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 Mondaq.com.

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

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
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
Password
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (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 www.mondaq.com

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 Mondaq.com’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.

Disclaimer

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.

Registration

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 unsubscribe@mondaq.com 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.

Cookies

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.

Links

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.

Mail-A-Friend

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.

Security

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 webmaster@mondaq.com.

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 EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

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 enquiries@mondaq.com.

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