CASL & Consent: Consequences and Exemptions

Written by Alex Kim on Thursday 10, August 2017
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Consequences and Exemptions

In our last post on the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, we talked primarily about consent, and what is required of marketers to gain consent for their email marketing. This week, I will go into more detail surrounding the consequences and exemptions to CASL.


Fines & Consequences

As mentioned in the previous post, CASL is not simply a superficial piece of legislation, it has real consequences that have already resulted in substantial fines for companies that have violated its terms. Porter Airlines and Rogers Communications were fined $150,000 and $200,000 respectively for faulty unsubscribe functions and opt-ins. The largest fine issued has been against Compu-Finder, a Quebec based company well known for their spamming practices, who was fined a whopping $1.1 million in 2015 for emailing without consent and providing no unsubscribe option.


The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has the ability to fine companies up to $10 million for violations of CASL. Understanding that these fines are real and significant is important to keep in mind when planning your email marketing campaigns.



CASL Exemptions

One provision of CASL that has been delayed, the Private Right of Action (PRA), would have given individuals the right to sue companies that sent them emails they did not consent to. A major factor in delaying this provision was that there are types of emails that users would want/need even without their consent. As a result, CASL has laid out a list of messages that do not require consent, and therefore are protected from being deemed violations.


The following is a list of those exemptions:

  • Internal emails
  • Messages sent to facilitate or confirm a transaction
  • Warranty, recall, safety info, etc.
  • Emails between two organizations if they have a previously existing relationship
  • Friends and family


What should I do?

So, if you want to avoid being exposed to potential CASL fines, what should you do? Here are a few steps that you can follow.

  1. Get consent

Receiving expressed or implied consent is always the most important step in your email marketing.

  1. Be able to prove consent (document it)

Having a paper trail to defer to when the question of consent arises is the best way to protect yourself from CASL.

  1. Train your staff

Everyone in your organization is subject to compliance with CASL. Just because you understand the rules and implications of it, does not mean that they will.

  1. Audit your email structure

Make certain that all of the necessary elements (ie. unsubscribe option, contact info, etc.) are included in your emails.

  1. Stay vigilant

You should be constantly monitoring your practices to make sure that proper CASL compliance is taking place.



Checkout Part 1 of this article here