Commercial Electronic Messages (CEMs)

Basic Rule

The principal CASL rule is that, subject to certain exemptions, a CEM cannot be sent to an electronic address unless:

  1. the sender has obtained consent from the recipient of the message; and
  2. the message contains the sender's contact information and an unsubscribe mechanism.

What is a CEM?

To fit the definition of a CEM, and be subject to CASL, a message must:

  • be in the form of an email, text message or instant message
  • be sent from a computer system in Canada or accessed by a computer system in Canada
  • relate to a transaction, act or conduct that has a commercial character such as:
    • purchasing, selling, bartering or leasing products, goods, services or land;
    • providing a business, investment or gaming opportunity; or
    • advertising or promoting any of these activities.
  • not relate to any University charitable fundraising activities
  • not relate to Queen’s University’s “core activities” which are, in general, the academic, research and related administrative activities which are central to Queen’s University’s operations as a University (a full definition of Queen’s University’s “core activities” can be found in the Queen’s University Royal Charter, 1841, as amended).

Messages that mix a commercial purpose with a non-commercial purpose are also considered to be CEMs.


CASL does not apply to the following:

  • messages between Queen’s employees relating to core activities
  • responses to a request, inquiry, complaint or application
  • communications relating to a legal obligation or to enforce a legal right
  • organization to organization communications related to their core activities

The following communications do not require consent but should include the name, contact and unsubscribe information noted under "Content Requirements" (see How to Comply with CASL):

  • messages which facilitate, complete or confirm a commercial transaction
  • warranty or product safety communications
  • messages providing information about ongoing:
    • purchases
    • loans
    • subscriptions
    • memberships (e.g., Queen’s University Alumni Association)
    • accounts
    • employment relations
    • employee benefit plans
    • product updates