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A panel comprised of recently retired GM Canada General Counsel, Heather Innes; current Bell Canada General Counsel, Bill Abbott; and Peter Clausi, General Counsel at GTA Resources and Mining and moderated by Neil Beaton, VP Corporate Development with CASL Cure, gave the CCCA member-audience an overview of issues surrounding the hot topic of the law’s upcoming private-right-of-action evolution which will open up CASL to allow class action suits, alongside the current CRTC regulation.

On July 1, a “private right of action” comes into force, opening the door for plaintiff-side class action lawyers to sue companies for alleged breaches of the law. This changes the game, because up till now companies in breach of the law have only had to answer to government regulators.Heather Innes, who was previously chief privacy officer with General Motors of Canada Ltd., said the regulatory actions have been harsher than most corporate counsel had expected. But they also offer a preview as to how easy it can be for a company to violate the law.

“Even the most sophisticated organization can make mistakes,” Innes told the panel. The regulators mean business, she said. “They are going to fine, and they are going to fine even if people have simply made mistakes.”

Bill Abbott, assistant general counsel and privacy ombudsman with Bell Canada, said that regulatory enforcement has focused on clear violations of the law. He expects class action lawyers to cast a wider net with their claims.

“Private right of action brings an entirely different environment with profit-driven plaintiffs who aren’t restricted by policy,” Abbott said. “Unlike the CRTC, which appears to be avoiding the ambiguous areas, that’s what they play on. That’s where they bring claims.”

Please visit the Financial Post Article for more information.

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