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As our new competition law handbook for associations is now out, The Competition Law Guide for Trade Associations in Canada, we thought we would post a few of the more interesting competition/antitrust association cases from 1905 to 2012.

Our small tiptoe through the history of associations and competition law will include cases involving ambulance operators, banks, building contractors, business forms suppliers, coal dealers, corrugated box manufacturers, corrugated metal pipe manufacturers, electrical contractors, fruit growers, gypsum dealers and manufacturers, insurance salespersons, lawyers, mandarin orange importers, notaries, pharmacists, paper mills, plumbing contractors and suppliers, real estate agents, softwood lumber dealers, surveyors and wholesale grocers, among others.

We’ll wrap up with the ongoing TREB case, the CREA case (settled in the fall of 2010) and a few of the more interesting recent international association cases over the past decade.  The following are a couple more golden oldies from the “trusts” era:

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The King v. Clarke (1907)

In The King v. Clarke, the president of the Alberta Retail Lumber Dealers’ Association was accused of conspiracy under section 498 of the Criminal Code.  This case involved an agreement among the members of the association to fix the price of lumber in various parts of Alberta, including penalties for non-compliance and pressure on lumber manufacturers to refuse to supply to non-members.  The association’s by-laws expressly provided for association price lists, the regulation of price in different geographic regions and penalties for non-compliance by members.  The accused was convicted at trial, which was affirmed on appeal.

R. v. McMichael (1907)

In R. v. McMichael, the manager of the Dominion Radiator Company was accused of conspiracy under section 520 of the Criminal Code.  This case involved agreements between the Master Plumbers Association and the Central Supply Association, including the Dominion Radiator Company, whereby plumber members would buy all of their goods from suppliers that agreed to only supply to the general public and non-member plumbers at higher prices.  The accused was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine and serve three months in prison.

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