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Currently under editorial revision. Seeking input from Canadian consumer protection agencies.


Canadian Laws pertaining to Pyramid Schemes and Multi-level Marketing

Definition of "multi-level marketing plan"

55. (1) For the purposes of this section and section 55.1, "multi-level marketing plan" means a plan for the supply of a product whereby a participant in the plan receives compensation for the supply of the product to another participant in the plan who, in turn, receives compensation for the supply of the same or another product to other participants in the plan.

Representations as to compensation

(2) No person who operates or participates in a multi-level marketing plan shall make any representations relating to compensation under the plan to a prospective participant in the plan unless the representations constitute or include fair, reasonable and timely disclosure of the information within the knowledge of the person making the representations relating to

(a) compensation actually received by typical participants in the plan; or

(b) compensation likely to be received by typical participants in the plan, having regard to any relevant considerations, including

(i) the nature of the product, including its price and availability,

(ii) the nature of the relevant market for the product,

(iii) the nature of the plan and similar plans, and

(iv) whether the person who operates the plan is a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship or other form of business organization.

Idem

(2.1) A person who operates a multi-level marketing plan shall ensure that any representations relating to compensation under the plan that are made to a prospective participant in the plan by a participant in the plan or by a representative of the person who operates the plan constitute or include fair, reasonable and timely disclosure of the information within the knowledge of the person who operates the plan relating to

(a) compensation actually received by typical participants in the plan; or

(b) compensation likely to be received by typical participants in the plan, having regard to any relevant considerations, including those specified in paragraph (2)(b).

Due diligence defence

(2.2) A person accused of an offence under subsection (2.1) shall not be convicted of the offence if the accused establishes that he or she took reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence to ensure

(a) that no representations relating to compensation under the plan were made by participants in the plan or by representatives of the accused; or

(b) that any representations relating to compensation under the plan that were made by participants in the plan or by representatives of the accused constituted or included fair, reasonable and timely disclosure of the information referred to in that subsection.

Offence and punishment

(3) Any person who contravenes subsection (2) or (2.1) is guilty of an offence and liable

(a) on conviction on indictment, to a fine in the discretion of the court or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both; or

(b) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding $200,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both.

R.S., 1985, c. C-34, s. 55; 1992, c. 14, s. 1; 1999, c. 2, s. 15.

Definition of "scheme of pyramid selling"

55.1 (1) For the purposes of this section, "scheme of pyramid selling" means a multi-level marketing plan whereby

(a) a participant in the plan gives consideration for the right to receive compensation by reason of the recruitment into the plan of another participant in the plan who gives consideration for the same right;

(b) a participant in the plan gives consideration, as a condition of participating in the plan, for a specified amount of the product, other than a specified amount of the product that is bought at the seller's cost price for the purpose only of facilitating sales;

(c) a person knowingly supplies the product to a participant in the plan in an amount that is commercially unreasonable; or

(d) a participant in the plan who is supplied with the product

(i) does not have a buy-back guarantee that is exercisable on reasonable commercial terms or a right to return the product in saleable condition on reasonable commercial terms, or

(ii) is not informed of the existence of the guarantee or right and the manner in which it can be exercised.

Pyramid selling

(2) No person shall establish, operate, advertise or promote a scheme of pyramid selling.

Offence and punishment

(3) Any person who contravenes subsection (2) is guilty of an offence and liable

(a) on conviction on indictment, to a fine in the discretion of the court or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to both; or

(b) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding $200,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or to both.

1992, c. 14, s. 1; 1999, c. 2, s. 16.

56. to 59. [Repealed, 1999, c. 2, s. 17]

Consumers who suspect they have been the victim of deceptive business practices or who want information on the application of the Competition Act should contact the Bureau's Information Centre at 1-800-348-5358, or visit their Web site at Competition Bureau.


Ontario Consumer Protection Act

 

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