Canada: Contests On The Internet

By Brenda L. Pritchard,

Published 4/1/00

The Internet has become a popular and profitable way for companies to advertise their goods and services to a very wide audience. As more and more contests are being conducted over the Internet, it is important to look at steps that should be taken to ensure compliance under the law. Since we know that the laws of Canada of general application, such as the Criminal Code, apply to any illegal services provided over the Internet, we can extrapolate from those laws to provide guidelines that should be followed when your company decides to run a contest over the Internet. The following guidelines will only deal with contest law on the Internet as it differs from contests run off-line.

Avoid Jurisdictional Disputes

One of the biggest problems raised by the Internet is that advertising, promotions and contests know no national bounds. Canadians who are running contests on the Internet must ensure that the contests are permitted in the countries from where contestants are permitted to enter. The issue becomes even more complicated when Canadian or foreign laws relating to contests are not complied with because the issue of jurisdiction arises. Where are these legal actions commenced? Who ought to be sued? Does the Canadian or foreign country have the jurisdiction to commence an action against the company who has not complied with the laws of the land? To resolve these issues, it is best if certain measures are taken.

Perhaps the most apparent measure is to provide a choice of law notice to alert users of the jurisdiction of the web.

A disclaimer on the web site should also be used to establish who is eligible to participate in the contest. For instance, you should specify that the contest is open to all Canadian residents, including or excluding Quebec, who have reached the age of majority in the province of residence. Since Quebec has its own laws relating to promotional contests, special consideration must be given to contests open to its residents.

Limit Eligibility

The disclaimer mentioned above not only helps with the jurisdiction issue, but is also important for a number of other reasons.

Canadian laws are only applicable in Canada. You would have difficulty enforcing rules that you have set (for instance, a skill testing question) against non-residents since the laws would have no bearing on them. Further, contests per se may be illegal in some foreign countries.

Next, while there is no federal law preventing the offering of promotional contests to children, contests open to children raise special considerations. For example, a child under the age of majority cannot be legally bound by a contract unless the child is over 16 and the contract is for necessities. Therefore, children who enter contests are not legally bound by the contest rules nor are they bound by a standard release.

Adequate and Fair Disclosure

As is required by the Competition Act, it is necessary to have adequate and fair disclosure of any fact within the knowledge of the advertiser that affects materially the chances of winning. While a web site may contain a set of mini-rules, (including: the number of prizes and approximate retail value in each category; the odds of winning each type of prize; the contest closing date; the address, location and/or phone number from which complete rules can be obtained; and, the fact that no purchase is necessary) it would be wise to include a link to a complete set of contest details.

Avoid Becoming an Illegal Contest under the Criminal Code

The Criminal Code sets out certain prohibitions for contests where entrants must pay valuable consideration to enter. Until such time as Internet access is universal, when accepting entrants into the contest, the following tactics should be employed. Make sure the entries are entered by name and not by e-mail address or by attribution to the holder of the e-mail account. It is also advisable to limit access to one entry per person, rather than per Internet address. In the alternative, you could allow for entry to the contest through snail mail. However, you must ensure that mail entries have the same chance of winning (i.e., equal integrity) as Internet entries.

Include a Glitch Disclaimer

Since technology is not without error, or hackers - as we have seen recently, it is very important for you to include a technical glitch disclaimer. Such a provision should at a minimum provide that you are not responsible for entries lost in cyberspace. It should probably also provide the sponsor’s right to cancel the contest because of viruses or bugs; the ineligibility of lost, interrupted of jumbled entries; a disclaimer of liability for bugs or technical failure; and, a disclaimer of liability for any damage to the user’s system. If the sponsor’s right to cancel provision has to be enforced, this should not affect the off-line portion of the contest.

Limit Number of Entries

Technology permits even the most naive user to generate multiple entries with the click of a mouse. As such, we generally recommend that Internet contests limit the number of entries per person - either per day or per contest. Software can be accessed to throw out multiple entries that do not comply with the contest rules. This precaution will also help avoid potential technical failures or blocking of the site by overzealous entrants.

Brenda Pritchard is the leader of the firm’s Advertising Law Practice Group and practices exclusively in the area of Advertising and Marketing Law in the Toronto office. She can be reached at (416) 862-5716 or by e-mail at

Shelley Samel practices in the area of Intellectual Property law, with emphasis on advertising and marketing law and litigation, in the Toronto office. She can be reached at (416) 862-4494 or by e-mail at

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.

Events from this Firm
8 Nov 2016, Seminar, Ottawa, Canada

The prospect of an internal investigation raises many thorny issues. This presentation will canvass some of the potential triggering events, and discuss how to structure an investigation, retain forensic assistance and manage the inevitable ethical issues that will arise.

22 Nov 2016, Seminar, Ottawa, Canada

From the boardroom to the shop floor, effective organizations recognize the value of having a diverse workplace. This presentation will explore effective strategies to promote diversity, defeat bias and encourage a broader community outlook.

7 Dec 2016, Seminar, Ottawa, Canada

Staying local but going global presents its challenges. Gowling WLG lawyers offer an international roundtable on doing business in the U.K., France, Germany, China and Russia. This three-hour session will videoconference in lawyers from around the world to discuss business and intellectual property hurdles.

In association with
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.


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.