Bill C-36, the Canadian Consumer Product Safety Act (CCPSA), stands to make a significant impact on the role and activities of in-house counsel. Passed in December 2010, the CCPSA provides the government with new powers to ensure the safety of manufactured and imported consumer products. It will affect most players in the supply chain, including manufacturers, distributors, importers, retailers, advertisers and testers, as well as their insurers.

Stricter requirements regarding incident reporting may create issues for in-house counsel, according to Jeffrey Graham, a partner in the Toronto office of BLG. “The notion that we now have an obligation right on the face of our statute that will require a report within a very limited period of time of an incident occurring outside of Canada is going to be a very significant challenge.”

Says Michael Smith, “if your company doesn't have bar codes on your products to quarantine batches, or other ways to prevent having to take every product of that nature off the shelf, when only 300 might be subject to a particular defect, now is the time to implement those processes throughout the chain to be able to respond efficiently to a problem.”