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April 13, 2017

The Competition Bureau (Bureau) recently launched the first in a series of eight blog posts on the Canada Business Network on competition law compliance programs (see: Our Best Recipe for Competition Law Compliance Programs!).

Competition compliance outreach is one of the Bureau’s key activities. In this regard, the Bureau engages in a range of efforts to encourage Canadian businesses and other organizations, including trade and professional associations, to comply with the federal Competition Act (Act). These include issuing compliance guidelines, industry presentations and talks, working with other government agencies (e.g., procurement bodies), education and approaching businesses that may have violated the Act.

In its first post, the Bureau practically outlines the seven key elements that are, in its view, essential for a credible and effective competition compliance program (for more information on competition law compliance programs see: here).

The Bureau says that it plans to issue seven further posts expanding on the key elements for an effective compliance program. The Bureau also emphasizes, as it does in its more detailed compliance related materials (e.g., its core Corporate Compliance Programs Bulletin), that competition compliance programs can and should be tailored based on the size of business, industry and particular competition law related risks.

This new blog series shows that encouraging companies to adopt compliance programs remains top of mind for the Bureau. It is also a reminder for businesses, associations and other organizations exposed to potential competition law risks of the importance of having both a general competition law compliance program, including periodic training, and adopting compliance procedures for specific activities that may raise risk.

Some common types of commercial activities that may raise competition law risk include: pre-merger coordination between merging parties, information exchanges among competitors (e.g., in connection with benchmarking, associations, surveys or joint ventures), joint ventures or competitor collaborations, joint marketing / joint buying arrangements with competitors, competitive bidding or tendering, trade association activities, pricing and distribution practices, refusals to deal or supply, advertising or marketing and activities by firms with significant market presence that may be predatory, disciplinary or exclusionary toward a competitor.

Given the potential civil and criminal competition law risk, companies and associations should adopt and periodically update competition compliance programs for competitively sensitive activities. It is also prudent for companies and associations to seek legal advice for particular initiatives that may raise competition law issues.

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