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April 10, 2014

The OECD has issued its second call for papers in a paper contest relating to policies including: competition, corporate governance, capital markets and financial services, international investment and foreign bribery.  The OECD’s second “challenge” (its first related to competition policy) relates to the operation of stock markets, a topic being widely debated at the moment.  From the OECD:

“Stock markets have traditionally played a central role in supporting investment financing, growth and jobs. They also allow households to participate in the growth of the economy. However, recent developments in the way that stock markets actually function make it necessary to challenge some of that conventional wisdom. These developments include market fragmentation, increased use of dark pools, high-frequency trading and co-location which some claim have eroded trust in stock markets as a level playing field where all investors have the same opportunities.

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Guest post by Amy Sullivan Cahill
(Stites & Harbison PLLC)

April 9, 2014

False or misleading “likes” or “favourites” have been a topic on my mind recently and one that I have found quite interesting since the recent U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s caution in the Cole Haan Pinterest contest case. In this interesting case, the U.S. FTC raised a question that has been to date mostly been unsettled – namely where the line is between lively participation in a promotion (e.g., “likes”, “pins”, etc.) and deceptive endorsements (i.e., false or misleading undisclosed endorsements).  As such, this recent short note by Amy Cahill caught my eye (reprinted with permission).

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April 9, 2014

I work with many companies and associations in relation to their competition law compliance requirements.  In this regard, a new corporate governance text, encompassing a number of compliance areas with sample codes, caught my eye earlier today entitled: International Standards: Annotated Corporate Social Responsibility Codes.

From the Carswell announcement:

International Standards: Annotated Corporate Social Responsibility Codes by Canadian lawyer Kenning Marchant has been released by Carswell, a Thomson Reuters business.  International Standards contains 99 leading CSR standards from 51 organizations in 2 volumes.  This unique compendium covers stakeholder engagement, human rights, labor, environment, consumers, bribery and corruption, whistleblowing, corporate governance and disclosure and reporting.  International Standards also has an indexed breakdown of standards for 15 industry sectors.”

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April 8, 2014

Earlier today, the Competition Bureau announced that one company and two individuals have pleaded guilty to price-fixing under the Competition Act in relation to an ocean freight cartel (see: here).  According to the Bureau, these pleas relate to a price-fixing cartel for various ocean freight related surcharges (including surcharges for currency exchange rate fluctuations and fuel) in operation from 2005 to 2011, which included agreements on rates or formulas used to calculate rates for various surcharges.

The corporate accused (ECU Line Canada Inc. (“ECU”)) was fined $1 million and the two individual accused, both executives of ECU, were sentenced to concurrent conditional sentences of three and four months.  On April 9th the Bureau announced two more guilty pleas in this case and a further corporate fine of $675,000.

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April 8, 2014

The Journal of Antitrust Enforcement (see: here) has published a new April issue, which includes articles on:

“Section 5 of the FTC Act: principles of navigation”; “Erosion or innovation?: The institutional design of competition agencies – A Dutch case study”; “Legal problems of digital evidence”; “Japan’s Antimonopoly Act – recent developments in private monopolization”; “The UK response to the global effort against cartels: is criminalization really the solution?”; “Immunity for cartel conduct: revolution or religion? An Australian case study”; “Loyalty discounts and theories of harm in the Intel investigations”; and “Understanding the limits of judicial review in European competition law”.

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April 7, 2014

Earlier today the Competition Bureau issued remarks from the Canadian Commissioner of Competition’s (John Pecman) talk in Vancouver at the Grocery Showcase West of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG).

With a number of interesting recent Canadian grocery and retail developments, including the new entry by U.S. retailers (e.g., Target) and Loblaw/Shoppers merger, competition in the grocery sector has been receiving a significant amount of media, consumer and Bureau attention over the past few months.

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April 7, 2014

As an update to two association cases that I blogged about last December (see: here), this past Friday the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it had approved settlements with two professional associations for allegedly restraining competition through association codes of ethics.

In these two cases, the FTC took issue with association codes of ethics put into place by an associations of music teachers and another of legal support professionals that allegedly restricted members’ ability to: solicit competitors’ clients; charge fees lower than “community averages”; offer free services; or engage in certain types of price and comparative advertising.

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