By way of a proceeding commenced March 11, 2015, the Competition Bureau has alleged that two car rental companies, Aviscar and Budgetcar, have engaged in deceptive marketing practices, including false or misleading emails. The proceeding seeks remedies including a total of $30 million in administrative monetary penalties and refunds to consumers. The claims rely, in part, on provisions of the Competition Act that were added by Canada’s anti-spam law (commonly known as “CASL”) and which prohibit false or misleading representations in commercial electronic messages (CEMs).

In addition to setting out rules regarding consent for the sending of CEMs, and specifying content and unsubscribe mechanisms, CASL amended the Competition Act to prohibit false or misleading representations in a CEM. The prohibition applies to any of the following elements of a CEM, each of which must be assessed independently:

  • sender information (the part of the message that purports to identify the sender);
  • subject matter information (the part of the message that purports to summarize or indicate the content of the message);
  • locator information (information, including a hyperlink/URL, in the message identifying a source of data); and
  • the body of the message.

A violation of these provisions attracts significant administrative monetary penalties or amps. These can range up to $1 million per violation for an individual and up to $15 million per violation for an organization.

Read more about this proceeding and the allegations against the two companies here