Essilor Wins Legal Victory in Ontario Online Eyewear Dispute


TORONTO—Essilor has won a victory in a legal dispute over the sale of online prescription eyewear in Ontario. Last week, the Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled that Essilor’s online retail business, Clearly, can continue selling prescription eyewear online in the province. The Court dismissed the Ontario College of Optometrists and the College of Opticians joint application to seek an injunction preventing Clearly from selling eyeglasses and contact lenses eyewear there, without following Ontario legislation. VM first reported on the Colleges’ application for an injunction in December 2016.

On Jan. 11, 2018, the Superior Court of Justice for Ontario granted the injunction. Clearly sought an appeal of the decision, which was heard on Sept. 21, 2018. On April 4, 2019, the Court of Appeal for Ontario released its decision granting Clearly’s appeal.

The court stated that when Clearly, which operates in compliance with the laws of its home province, British Columbia, is delivering eyeglasses to an Ontario consumer, the act of delivery is not the “controlled act” of “dispensing” which Ontario law governs.

“The mere delivery in Ontario of an order for prescription eyewear that has been processed in compliance with the British Columbia regulatory regime, without more, does not establish a sufficient connection between Essilor's online sales and the controlled acts proscribed by (Ontario's laws)," the Appeal Court ruled. The Court also said, "Where the supplier of the prescription eyewear operates in another province and complies with that province's health-professions regulatory regime when filling an online order placed by an Ontario customer, the final act of delivering that product to the Ontario purchaser does not amount to the performance of a 'controlled act' by the supplier.”

Christophe Perreault, president of Essilor Canada, commented, “We believe the judgment provides consumers an additional channel to search for vision-related information and optical products, and purchase products according to their buying habits. This by no means reduces the need for eyecare professionals and the need for annual comprehensive eye exams for good visual health. Essilor Canada will continue championing our eyecare partners and increasing eye health awareness. Essilor Canada welcomes continuous, open conversations with industry players regarding the industry’s ever-changing landscape, future challenges and consumer needs.”

In a joint statement posted on their respective websites, The College of Optometrists of Ontario and The College of Opticians of Ontario said they are “disappointed with the outcome of this appeal” and “will take time to conduct a more fulsome review of the decision and provide further information at a later date.”

Click here to read the Appeal Court ruling.