CASL changes

Government Suspends Private Right of Action Provisions of CASL

Anthea Business Development

In response to concerns raised by businesses, charities and non-profits, the Government of Canada recently suspended the private right of action (PRA) provisions of Canada’s Anti-spam Legislation (CASL). PRA was scheduled to come into force July 1, 2017, and would have allowed lawsuits to be filed against organizations, as well as their officers, directors and agents, by anyone who felt affected by an act or omission that violated CASL.

PRA Concerns and Next Steps

PRA would have allowed any individuals or enterprises to file a lawsuit in court if they felt they have been affected by a violation of CASL. This would also open the door for anti-spam class-action lawsuits.

The major issue cited with this is that plaintiffs in CASL cases could claim both compensatory and statutory damages, and defendants could face fines as high as $1 million per day. Given the complexity of CASL compliance and these significant penalties, organizations raised concerns that PRA would lead to an increase in class-action suits.

With the suspension of PRA, businesses no longer have to worry about these litigation issues—at least for now. However, all other CASL provisions remain in effect and are subject to enforcement.

Organizations will continue to face CASL enforcement initiated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the Competition Bureau and the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. These regulatory bodies can bring administrative monetary penalties up to $10 million and potential personal liability lawsuits against directors and officers for CASL violations.

Accordingly, organizations should continue to take appropriate steps to ensure that they are fully compliant with CASL. Learn more at