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.


Key Tips to Running Promotional
Contests in Canada

The following is a list of some of the key tips (though not an exhaustive check-list) for operating a successful 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 reflect the details of the contest, cover potential contingencies (e.g., technical problems) and that 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 releases.  Standard precedents, or rules downloaded from the web rarely accurately reflect a particular promotion.  Like all law, counsel should not only understand what each provision 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.

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 stand-alone contest provisions of the Competition Act (under 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 that frequently 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).

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, the Competition Act also contains provisions governing deceptive prize notices, general misleading advertising and telemarketing that involves prizes.



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.

To contact me about a potential legal matter: Contact



    I am a competition and advertising lawyer based in Toronto who blogs on competition and advertising law and interesting legal and policy developments relating to business, white-collar crime, corruption and Internet and new media law.

    I offer business, association, government and individual clients efficient and strategic advice in relation to competition/antitrust, advertising, regulatory and new media law. I also offer compliance, education and policy services.

    My more than 15 years experience includes advising clients on hundreds of domestic and cross-border competition, advertising and marketing, promotional contest/sweepstakes, conspiracy/cartel, abuse of dominance, compliance, refusal to deal and pricing and distribution matters.

    For more information about my services, see here.