Bill Hearn

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Bill Hearn is an experienced business lawyer with expertise in corporate and commercial law and in specific areas of regulatory law.

He acts for businesses, governments, Crown agencies, charities and trade associations. The main industry sectors in which he works are agricultural, automotive, chemical, consumer products, construction, energy and resources, defence, financial services, gaming, liquor, life sciences, marine, pharmaceutical, rail, retail and sports and entertainment.

A recognized leader in many fields, Bill is ranked highly in Best Lawyers in Canada, Chambers Canada, Lexpert, Martindale-Hubbell, and Who’s Who Legal. He is listed as a Regulatory lawyer in the Lexpert 2019 Guide to the Leading U.S./Canada Cross-Border Lawyers in Canada. Chambers recognizes Bill as a “quintessential advertising and marketing lawyer”, saying he does “phenomenal work” in consumer protection and regulatory compliance, and “is talented and got years under his belt advising clients in the advertising and marketing area. He is highly regarded for his expertise in the food and pharmaceutical sectors.” Chambers also says Bill is “well known in the community for his thought leadership” and “experienced working with private and public clients”. Who’s Who Legal recognizes Bill as one of Canada’s leading shipping and maritime lawyers saying he is “a gifted lawyer with a broad client base”.

As a corporate and commercial lawyer, Bill’s practice includes: private mergers and acquisitions (especially in highly regulated industries such as for-profit post-secondary education); corporate governance (for businesses as well as trade associations and charities); corporate reorganizations; and negotiating and drafting contracts (such as RFPs, tenders, licenses, co-promotion and services agreements).

As a regulatory lawyer, Bill’s practice includes: advertising and marketing (with an emphasis on consumer protection, personal information and data protection, and Canada’s anti-spam law (CASL) compliance and enforcement; competition (mainly deceptive marketing practices, unilateral conduct, pricing and distribution policies, and compliance programs and audits); international trade (i.e., sales and remedies); privacy (especially with respect to consumers in the marketing context); procurement (mainly hospital and defence); and transportation (with a focus on marine).

Bill is a frequent writer and presenter on topics relating to his specialized areas of practice.

Education & Memberships


Cambridge University, LL.M.,1989

International Business and Trade Law

Called to Ontario Bar, 1988
University of Toronto, LL.B., 1986
University of Toronto, Trinity College, B.A. Hons., 1983

International Relations & Economics


Advertising Standards Canada
Canadian Marketing Association

Ethics & Privacy Committee Member, 2004-present

Canadian International Council -Toronto Chapter, 2008-present
Association of Canadian Port Authorities

Law Committee Member, 1999-2012

Law Society of Ontario
Ontario Bar Association
Canadian Bar Association

Awards and Recognition

Chambers Canada

Leading Advertising & Marketing Lawyer

Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory

Most Frequently Recommended in the area of Advertising & Marketing Law

The Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada

Advertising & Marketing Lawyer

The Best Lawyers™ in Canada

Advertising & Marketing Lawyer

Who’s Who International Legal - Canada

Leading Shipping & Maritime Lawyer

Martindale and Hubbell

High BV® Distinguished – Business Law

Professional & Community Involvement

Board of Directors, Canadian Marketing Association
Former Chair, Board of Trustees, Armour Heights Presbyterian Church
Former Director and Executive Committee Member, National Advertising Benevolent Society (NABS)

Speaking Engagements & Publications

Speaker, How Canada’s Proposed Private Sector Modernized Privacy Law and New AI Systems Law Will Impact Canadian Business, Council of Canadian Innovators CEO Briefing on Bill C-27, July 2022
Speaker, Happy Together: Privacy and Competition Law in a Digital Economy, CBA Fall Law Series, December 10. 2020
Co-Chair and Speaker, Canadian Institute's Annual Advertising & Marketing Law Conference, 2015- 2019
Speaker, Taming the Contest Beast Canadian Contest Law & Practice and the CMA’s updated Guide to Promotional Contests, December 13, 2018
Speaker and Course Leader, Lexpert's 10th Annual Privacy and Data Protection Conference, November 27, 2018
Speaker, CMAprivacy: Important Privacy Developments and How They Impact Your Organization, "GDPR & ePrivacy Regulations - Understanding the Impacts on Business", October 25, 2018
NAFTA 2.0 – Tweets, Traps and Trends in Trade and Transportation, Panel at 30th Annual Transportation Logistics Conference, Bill Hearn, Lawrence Herman, Carlos Sesma, Jr., and Olga Torres , Hamilton, September 25, 2018
Advertising & Marketing Update:Trending Now, Presentation at LSO’s The Six Minute Business Lawyer, Toronto, June 4, 2018
A GDPR Gap Analysis from a Canadian Compliance Perspective, Panel at IAPP Canada Privacy Symposium 2018, Bill Hearn, Fabian Seip and David Young, Toronto, May 24, 2018
Understanding Cyber Risk and Building Cyber Resilience, Seminar, Bill Hearn and Iain Paterson, Toronto, May 7, 2018
Speaker and Course Leader, "General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - Implications for Canadian Businesses" and "Blockchain – The Promise and the Perils" at Lexpert Information Privacy and Data Protection Conference, November 30, 2017.
Speaker, "Effective Online Disclaimers - Making Fine Print Enforceable" and "Digital Native Advertising - Distinguishing Advertising from Editorial Content" - What's Trending Now in Digital Advertising & Marketing Law Seminar, February 28, 2017
Speaker and Course Leader, "Viewing and Being Viewed - Minimize Digital Risk", Lexpert Information Privacy & Data Protection Conference, Toronto, December 1, 2016
Speaker, "Critical Claims Concerns" OBA Advertising and Marketing Law: Social, Digital, Online Compliance, October 21, 2016
Speaker, "Consumer Protection: Some Important Recent Developments Pertinent to Ontario Business Lawyers", The Six Minute Business Lawyer, Law Society of Upper Canada, June 8, 2016
Speaker, "Protecting Your Brand In the Digital Marketplace: Competition Law Compliance", Canadian Marketing Association webinar, June 1, 2016
Speaker on "CASL Enforcement" and "Programmatic Advertising, Online Behavioural Advertising and Big Data", Lexpert Information Privacy and Data Protection Conference, December 1, 2015.
Speaker, Pharmaceutical Advertising and the PAAB Code, Pharmaceutical Advertising Advisory Board (PAAB) annual national training seminars, November 24 and 26, 2015
Speaker, "CASL Compliance for Pharmaceutical Companies", Pharmaceutical Advertising Advisory Board (PAAB) webinar, March 2015
Speaker, "CASL Compliance", Lexpert Information Privacy & Data Protection Conference, Toronto, December 2014.
Speaker, "Competition Law Risks of Trade Associations", LSUC 6 Minute Business Lawyer, June 2013
Speaker, "US and Canadian Perspectives on Ad Interpretation", American Bar Association Consumer Protection webinar, March 2013
Speaker, "Accountability and the Code of Conduct for Directors and Officers of Canada Port Authorities", Association of Canadian Port Authorities, Governance Conference, 2011

Published Works

"Canada" chapter in Getting the Deal Through, Advertising & Marketing Guide, 2016 & 201
"Canada" chapter in Global Legal Group, Comparative International Pharmaceutical Advertising Guide, 2016.
"Misleading Advertising and Marketing Practices" chapter in Fundamentals of Canadian Competition Law, Carswell, 2015.
Pro Tips from the Early Days of Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation, Lexpert CCCA Corporate Counsel Directory and Yearbook, 2014.
Ontario's Proposed Unclaimed Intangible Property Program, Marketing Magazine 2013.
"Procurement and Tendering" chapter in Construction Law in Canada, LexisNexis, 2012.

representative work

Public Research Institution – Innovative Fundraising under Industrial Regional Benefits (IRB) Policy

Advising a public institution in consultations with Industry Canada on an innovative way to raise funds from the private sector in order to establish a new research centre through a public-private consortium involving the institution, a Canadian private sector company, and a defence contractor as members all to leverage financial contributions to the centre through the use of the contractor’s credits under the IRB policy applicable to the Canadian Government’s defence procurement projects.

Federal Crown Corporation – Corporate Governance

Advising a corporation’s governance committee in resolving a difficult corporate governance matter that included navigating complex issues of law, ethics, public policy, government relations and public relations.

Renewable Energy Co-Operative

Advised limited partner in a project financing for a planned wind farm in Ontario that successfully closed.

Ontario Power Regulator

Drafting plain language re-write of complex master energy conservation agreement (and related program rules, guidelines and other documents) with Ontario’s many independent electricity distributors.

US Private Equity Funds and US Private Universities & Career Colleges - Canadian M&A

Leading teams of corporate, tax, finance, employment and regulatory counsel (involving approvals under the Competition Act, Investment Canada Act and provincial private career college laws), working across borders with US and other foreign lawyers and establishing out-of-province ULCs and/or Luxembourg SARLs, to negotiate, draft and close many private M&A transactions where Canadian private career colleges have been either bought or sold.

Canadian Schedule I Bank - Co-Branded Debit Card Awards Program

Drafting complex and tailored agreements and advising on various commercial, trade-marks, privacy, banking and other regulatory legal issues to launch a first-of-its-kind national debit card awards program co-branding a major Canadian bank and one of Canada’s leading retailers.

Canada Port Authorities - Establishment & Operation

Over an initial 12-month period, negotiating with Transport Canada and drafting the letters patent, by-laws, resolutions and other organizational documents and related agreements to commercialize a nationally significant port and establish it as a Canada port authority under the Canada Marine Act. Thereafter, advising that CPA and other CPAs from coast-to-coast on a variety of issues including amalgamation, infrastructure renewal, government funding and P3s, corporate governance, and PILTs.

National Charity

Conducting corporate governance review, drafting changes to constating and charitable registration documents, and preparing corporate governance manual for directors and officers.

Canadian Drywall Producer – International Trade Dispute

Representing an independent Canadian drywall producer against several multinational companies (with operations in both Canada and the United States) in a major anti-dumping hearing before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal and lobbying the federal Minister of Finance on public interest issues following a federal Order-in-Council to review the CITT’s decision all to ensure the continued imposition of duties on dumped imports of US drywall into Western Canada so as to protect Canadian producers from injury due to unfairly traded goods.

Canadian Email Marketer

Settling high profile CRTC enforcement action regarding alleged violations of CASL and assisting client enhance its CASL compliance program to fulfill undertaking with CRTC.

Canadian Association for Marketers and Advertisers

Updating code of practice for members and providing advice on training programs for members.

US Wellness Coaching Company

Providing health professions regulation, privacy and extra-provincial corporate registration advice for launch of employee benefit wellness coaching program across Canada.

Telecommunications Company

Advising company in connection with Canada’s Commissioner of Competition’s litigation against Bell, Rogers, Telus and the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association regarding alleged deceptive advertising of certain premium text messaging and rich content services.

Coalition of Health Care Providers

Advising as a registered lobbyist on proposed changes to Canada’s direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising laws.

Canadian Oil & Gas Pipeline Proponent

Advising as a registered lobbyist on marine port regulatory matters related to proposed major pipeline project in Canada.

Canadian Sports and Entertainment Enterprise

Advising on range of advertising & marketing and sponsorship issues for promoting sports teams and other events, and helping it establish a CASL compliance program.

Major Hollywood Studio

Advising on range of advertising & marketing issues (including contests and promotions) and intellectual property protection issues relating to studio’s new film releases.

Canadian Agri-Chemical Trade Association

Advising on range of corporate governance, competition law compliance, regulatory, public policy & government relations, and other matters including protection of proprietary interests in pesticides data and other intellectual property matters and working with Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency.

Global Family Entertainment, Media and Travel Enterprise

Providing Canadian advertising & marketing, consumer protection, commercial, pricing, privacy, payment card, anti-money laundering and unclaimed property law advice to a leading international family entertainment and media enterprise regarding its industry-leading global suite of online virtual worlds for kids.

Coalition of Ontario Canada Port Authorities - PILT Lobby

Lobbying the federal and Ontario governments to establish a new basis on which Canada port authorities would make payments in lieu of taxation (PILTs) to their neighbouring municipal governments.

Canadian Corn Producers - Trade War

Leading a multi-lawyer team in a three-pronged attack on dumped and subsidized US grain corn which included: launching anti-dumping and countervailing duty proceedings (culminating in an application for judicial review to the Federal Court in which there were 34 adverse parties including the United States Trade Representative), convincing Canada to launch a WTO complaint against certain US agricultural subsidies and lobbying federal and provincial governments for more robust risk management programs for Canadian corn farmers.

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