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Business Law

Canada’s Anti-Spam Law: Be prepared!

May 7th, 2013

By Nathalie Proulx

Canada's Anti-Spam Law (the "Law") should enter into force in 2013 (the exact date is not yet known). Once this new Law is enacted, it may well have an impact on your business.

Here are a few guidelines:

  •  any electronic message that encourages participation in a commercial activity, regardless of whether there is an expectation of profit or not, shall be covered by the Law;
  •  the recipient must give his consent before a message can be sent. There are exceptions, for example, messages can be sent to existing clients and to anyone who was a client during the two (2) years preceding the sending of the message;
  •  the message requesting consent to receive a message may not be sent without the recipient's consent. As such, it is possible that once the Law is enacted, you may no longer be able to contact certain persons included on your company's contacts list by email, unless you contact them through other legal means. In order to prevent this situation, you should contact former clients before the Law enters into force to obtain their consent to the sending of emails;
  •  all messages must meet certain requirements as to their form and content, and must include a means to unsubscribe; and
  •  the Law applies to all "commercial electronic messages" and includes, in addition to emails, all text messages, instant messages and those sent through social networking sites.

Infringement of the Law could be very costly to your company and its directors, officers and agents (under certain conditions).  In addition to penalties, they may be subject to civil remedies and requirements to pay compensation.

We therefore recommend that you review and update your company's communication practices and list of business relations prior to the Law coming into force, and ensure that your company will be able to meet the requirements as to the form and content of commercial electronic messages to be sent pursuant to the Law. This cannot be done overnight, therefore it is best to see to it as soon as possible!

Nathalie Proulx practices business law, concentrating on mergers and acquisitions and financing. She also provides advice to multiple enterprises on various legal issues they have in their daily business affairs.