This week the Supreme Court of Canada released the decision in Richard v. Time Inc., considering an appeal of prohibited business practices in marketing under Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act. John Gregory summarized the case on Slaw previously here.
The plaintiff received $1,000 in compensatory damages and $15,000 in punitive damages after he received a direct mailing from the defendant that appeared to indicate that he had won a Cash Prize of $833,337.00. The Quebec Court of Appeal reversed the trial judge’s decision in favour of the plaintiff, indicating that the campaign did not explicitly make any promises and was carefully worded to avoid violation of the Act. The majority reversed that holding, stating that the campaign was deemed to have a fraudulent effect because it induced the plaintiff to subscribe to Time magazine.
Kirk Makin of The Globe has an excellent summary of the case here. He quotes Eugene Meehan, who suggests that the decision could provide the foundation for further litigation against similar direct marketing campaigns.
The Globe also has an interactive module which demonstrates how the court dealt with specific parts of the letter that was sent to the plaintiff. The graphic is worth checking out for those looking for a visual representation of the court’s decision, although the optical character recognition for the text version still has some errors.
The Globe uses a service called Document Cloud to create this graphic, which looks like a useful way to annotate notes, exhibits and decisions. Unfortunately the service is not open to the general public, and you have to apply for a free account,
DocumentCloud accounts are all newsroom based. DocumentCloud is available to anyone who reports on primary source documents. For the most part our users are journalists, but if you are doing document based investigative reporting we’d love to have you join us, even if you aren’t a newsroom-based journalist in the conventional sense. If you’re not in a traditional newsroom, please do show us some of your reporting and tell us a little bit about the kind of documents you’re working with.