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Summary of the Procedure

Complaints against an Advertiser’s Advertising (individually a "Complaint" and collectively "Complaints") must be based on the provisions of the Code; submitted in writing to the Vice President, Standards, ASC; and signed, or authorized in writing, by a senior executive officer in Canada (or an authorized legal representative) of the Advertiser lodging the Complaint. Initially, the onus or burden will be on the complainant to convince ASC there are reasonable grounds to proceed with a Complaint alleging a breach of the Code.

A copy of the Complaint will be provided to the Advertiser against whom the Complaint has been lodged, if ASC, having assessed the Complaint, has verified and agreed that a violation of the Code may have occurred. ASC alone will determine whether a Complaint will be considered and accepted either as multiple Complaints or as a single Complaint about the same message appearing in more than one commercial or advertisement.

ASC will convene and participate in one or more mandatory resolution meetings between the parties at which ASC will actively assist the parties in their attempt to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the Complaint. If resolution cannot be achieved, a five-member Advertising Dispute Panel will then be drawn from a special resource group of advertisers, agencies, media, legal professionals and public representatives, and a date for a hearing will be set.

Both parties will attend the hearing at the same time. Each will be able to question and challenge the other party’s position after an uninterrupted presentation. In order for a complainant Advertiser to receive a judgment in its favour from the Advertising Dispute Panel, it is incumbent upon the complainant to convince a majority of the Advertising Dispute Panel that one or more of the material aspects of the complainant’s case have been proven on the balance of probability. It is insufficient under the Procedure for the complainant to merely make unsubstantiated allegations of Code offences. The defendant Advertiser’s burden, on the other hand, is to submit credible and reliable evidence that casts reasonable doubt, in the judgment of the Advertising Dispute Panel, on the critical merits of the complainant Advertiser’s case.

When the Advertising Dispute Panel is satisfied that it has sufficient information from the submissions, both parties will be asked to retire and the Panel will reach its decision in private. Following notice of the Advertising Dispute Panel’s decision, either party may request a review of the decision if that party can demonstrate a misinterpretation of evidence and/or a misapplication of a provision of the Code has occurred.

If a decision is so challenged, ASC will call upon three members of the Advertising Dispute Resource Group to form a Review Panel and assess the merits of the challenge. If, in the Review Panel’s opinion, there is cause for appeal, an Appeal Panel of five persons not previously involved and having no conflict in the matter will be selected and a date set to hear the appeal. The conduct of the appeal will be similar in all respects to the first hearing. The decision of the Appeal Panel, however, will be final and binding.

At any point in the Procedure, the defendant Advertiser has the option to voluntarily withdraw the Advertising in question (from broadcast, publication, circulation or exhibition, as the case may be) or appropriately amend it. Upon receipt of written confirmation of intention to withdraw and/or appropriately amend, and providing such action occurs within ten working days of the commitment, the Procedure will be suspended and the case file closed unless within one year of filing the original Complaint the Advertising in question is reinstated, in which case, acting upon the written request of the Advertiser filing the original Complaint, ASC will revive the original Complaint.

It should be noted that the Procedure will not be suspended, delayed or ended for the reason that a defendant Advertiser declines to attend and participate fully at any one or more stages in the Procedure. A decision on the Complaint may be made by an Advertising Dispute Panel even in the absence of the defendant Advertiser based on the information already in the possession of the Panel and on any further pertinent information submitted by the complainant for the Panel’s consideration.

If the Complaint is decided at a hearing by an Advertising Dispute Panel with the defendant Advertiser declining to attend and/or participate, and/or if ASC has reasonable cause to believe that the defendant Advertiser will not comply with the Advertising Dispute Panel's decision that is unfavourable to the defendant, then ASC will publish a summary of the outcome of the initial hearing and any appeal hearings. This will include the facts and issues in dispute, an identification of both parties and a description of the advertising in question.

ASC will also refer publically to the defendant Advertiser's unwillingness to participate/ comply and advise both the exhibiting media and the Competition Bureau of the facts and outcome of the hearing.