This alert has been prepared in collaboration with Canada’s Fasken Martineau law firm. Mr. Di Domenico is a partner and regional chair of the firm’s Antitrust/Competition & Marketing Group in Toronto. Chris Cole is Co-Chair of Crowell’s Advertising & Product Risk Management Group in Washington, D.C.
In less than three months, Canada will introduce a private right of action arising from false or misleading representations made in electronic messages. These provisions target false or misleading advertisements in, for example, email and social media and arguably capture website advertising based on the law’s broad definition of “electronic message.” Government-initiated enforcement of these provisions has already taken place through Canada’s Competition Bureau since 2014, which has led to Consent Agreements against Avis, Budget (following a contested application), Amazon, Hertz, and Dollar Thrifty. Even more concerning, the law applies statutory penalties to each violation. The closest United States analog to such a law would be the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which carries penalties for violation of up to $1500 per violation.