Canadian Federal Government Suspends CASL Private Right of Action

We received a very positive Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) update from the Canadian Federal government this week. It was announced that the private right to action under CASL that was originally to come into force on July 1, 2017 would be suspended.

IAB Canada is very pleased with this outcome as we had raised the pressing issue that under the private right of action, organizations (including officers, directors and agents) could be sued by anyone claiming to have been “affected” by an act or omission that violated CASL. Our concern was that these omissions could easily occur in the first few months of enforcement and that as a result, plaintiffs would be in a position to claim both compensatory damages (for any actual losses or damages they may have suffered) as well as statutory damages, which in some circumstances could be up to $1 million per day, even where no actual harm was proven.

IAB Canada’s legal counsel, Adam Kardash also Chair, Privacy and Data Management, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP explained that the private right of action could potentially lead to a “cottage industry of class actions” for non-compliance with CASL. The suspension of the private right of action removes the immediate risk of these class actions and other private litigation.

There is no indication of whether the suspension is permanent or if it might take effect in the future.

Please note that although the private right of action has been suspended, other provisions remain in force and will be enforced by the CRTC and other regulators.

IAB Canada would like to thank its members for engaging so rigorously on this matter. Our association in concert with many others inevitably influenced this positive outcome.