Contest Tips


Need contest rules and forms for a Canadian Contest?: I offer a selection of Canadian contest rules and forms for common types of Canadian contests. For more information see: Contest Forms.


The following is a list of key tips, though not meant to be exhaustive, for safely (i.e., legally) and successfully running a promotional contest in Canada:

Criminal Code.  Take care to avoid the Criminal Code illegal lottery offences (e.g., provide a “no purchase necessary” entry option and skill element, such as a time-limited, multiple-step mathematical question).

Short Rules.  Include “short rules” including all of the required Competition Act disclosure requirements for point-of-purchase materials (e.g., print and in-store marketing, social media and Internet sites, packaging and labeling, television spots, etc.).

Long Rules.  Ensure that precise “long rules” are prepared that accurately reflect the nature of the contest/promotion, anticipate potential contingencies (e.g., technical problems) and set out the details of the promotion as clearly as possible – for example, eligibility requirements; how to enter; prize descriptions, number and values; draws and award of prizes; odds of winning; and indemnity and winner release requirements.  Standard precedents, or rules downloaded from the web rarely accurately reflect a particular promotion.  Like all law, counsel should not only understand what each contest/promotion rule means, but all rules should be relevant to the particular promotion.  In this regard, contests are contracts, and so if you as a promoter want to rely on the rules in the event of an issue, they should be as accurate, clear and precise as possible and enforceable.

General Misleading Advertising Provisions.  Ensure that none of the advertising or marketing materials are generally false or misleading (i.e., comply with the “general misleading advertising” sections of the Competition Act).  In this regard, contests in Canada must comply not only with a stand-alone contest provision of the Competition Act (section 74.06) but also with the general misleading advertising sections of the Competition Act.

Checklists.  If contests are part of your company’s regular marketing, consider developing an internal checklist to ensure that all key legal requirements are covered (check-lists are commonly used by contest and sweepstakes lawyers and in-house counsel for companies that regularly run contests).

Quebec Considerations.  Ensure that Quebec legal requirements are met for contests run in Quebec or take care to make sure that eligibility is limited to Canadian residents, excluding Quebec.

Intellectual Property Consents.  Consider whether consents are needed (and if necessary obtained) to reproduce 3rd party intellectual property – for example, trade-marks, logos, etc. – or to transfer ownership in contest materials – for example, where contestants create original material as part of the contest or promotion.

U.S. Advice.  Seek U.S. legal advice if the contest will be open to U.S. residents or limit the contest to Canada).  One size does not fit all in contest rules, that can vary according to the type of promotion, jurisdiction in which its run, etc.

Social Media Site Rules.  Comply with social media sites’ terms of use if using social media to promote or host a contest (e.g., Facebook’s Promotions Rules).

Other Competition & Advertising Rules.  Consider whether other competition or advertising law rules may apply.  For example, in addition to a stand-alone contest provision (section 74.06), the Competition Act also contains provisions governing deceptive prize notices, general misleading advertising and telemarketing involving prize giveaways.



Contest Law

I offer a full range of Canadian contest legal services for compliance with the Competition Act, Criminal Code and other relevant laws.  My services include: preparing contests to comply with relevant federal laws, drafting short and long contest rules and statutory disclosure, reviewing promotional contest marketing and advertising materials for Canadian advertising law compliance and winner releases.

Advertising Law

I help clients practically navigate Canada’s advertising and marketing laws and offer Canadian advertising law services in relation to print, online, new media, social media and e-mail marketing.

My Canadian advertising law services include advice in relation to: anti-spam legislation (CASL); Competition Bureau complaints; the general misleading advertising provisions of the Competition Act; Internet, new media and social media advertising and marketing; promotional contests (sweepstakes); and sales and promotions. I also provide advice relating to specific types of advertising issues, including performance claims, testimonials, disclaimers and native advertising.

Competition Law

I offer business and individual clients efficient and strategic advice in relation to competition/antitrust, advertising, Internet and new media law and contest law.  I also offer competition and regulatory law compliance, education and policy services to companies, trade and professional associations and government agencies.

My experience includes counseling clients on the application of Canadian competition and regulatory laws and I have worked on hundreds of domestic and cross-border competition, advertising and marketing, promotional contest (sweepstakes), conspiracy (cartel), abuse of dominance, compliance, refusal to deal, pricing and distribution, Investment Canada Act and merger matters.

To contact me about a potential legal matter: contact.