Deceptive notices of winning a prize

Section 53 of the Competition Act is a criminal provision. It prohibits the sending of a notice that gives the recipient the general impression he or she has won a prize or other benefit and asks or gives the option to pay money or incur a cost in order to obtain the prize or benefit. The provision applies to notices sent by any means, including but not limited to regular or electronic mail. No offence would arise if the recipient actually receives the prize or benefit and the person who sent the notice:

  1. provides fair and adequate disclosure of the number and approximate value of prizes or benefits, the area or areas to which they have been allocated, and any fact that materially affects the chances of winning;
  2. distributes prizes without unreasonable delay; and
  3. selects participants or distributes prizes randomly or on the basis of participants' skill, in any area to which the prizes or benefits have been allocated.

Any person who contravenes section 53 is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of up to $200,000 and/or imprisonment up to one year on summary conviction, or to fines in the discretion of the court and/or imprisonment up to 14 years upon indictment.

Relevant publications

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