Public Asked for Say in Quebec Competition/Corruption Probe – Charbonneau Commission Calls for Public Submissions
February 17, 2014
Want your say in the ongoing Quebec competition/corruption law probe? The Charbonneau Commission has issued a call for public input on “stopping corruption” in Quebec. According to media releases earlier today (see e.g.: Charbonneau Commission calls for public input on halting corruption), public commentators have until June 20, 2014 and may send submit suggestions via the Charbonneau Inquiry’s website (see: here).
February 17, 2014
Helping their clients understand (and take steps to avoid) competition/antitrust law cartels is top of the list for outside and in-house competition counsel. The detection and enforcement of competition law cartels has also continued to receive increased enforcement attention in the past few years, both in Canada over the terms of the last two Commissioners of competition, as well as international antitrust agencies, notably in the EU and U.S.
As such, this recently updated global cartel survey caught my eye: The Cartels and Leniency Review – Edition 2, which includes discussions of the relevant competition law cartel regimes in key jurisdictions including Canada, as well as Australia, Brazil, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, the United States and a number of other countries.
February 16, 2014
When I deliver competition compliance seminars and talk to industry groups, I often discuss the fact that imprisonment is one possible criminal penalty under the Competition Act (though is, somewhat curiously, more commonly imposed for deceptive advertising than for price-fixing or other criminal competition law conduct).
While that may soon change with the recent elimination of conditional sentences for cartel offences (e.g., price-fixing and other per se illegal agreements between competitors) and bid-rigging, several days ago the Competition Bureau announced that a Canadian court has once again imposed a prison sentence for misleading advertising.
Antitrust & Associations: Recent New Zealand Case a Reminder that Voluntary Industry Associations are Not Price Regulators
February 16, 2014
A New Zealand association related case announced a few days ago is a recent reminder that voluntary industry associations are not price regulators (see: Commission issues warning over “no discounting” clause).
While there can sometimes be a temptation for trade associations and their leadership to get involved in the competitive activities of their members, and pressure from members to do so, such as relating to prices, services, customers and markets, this recent enforcement by the New Zealand Commerce Commission (“ComCom”) illustrates the potential competition/antitrust law risk of doing so.
Good Discussion (Video) of Potential Issues Relating to Federal Government’s Proposal to Equalize Canadian and U.S. Prices For Consumers
February 13, 2014
Mark Warner over at Maaw Law has given a very good and reasoned interview earlier today on the competition and trade aspects of the Canadian federal government’s proposal to take steps to equalize prices between the U.S. and Canada for Canadian consumers. I thought this interview set out quite well the various competing issues in this new federal initiative (though I myself remain a bit skeptical regarding the workability of the proposal, and remained concerned about potential deterrence to foreign investment in Canada and whether this is in essence price regulation). For this quite good interview see: Canadian Budget 2014: What’s In It For Consumers.
Proposed Amendment to Canada’s Competition Act to Prohibit “Unjustified” Cross-Border Price Discrimination
February 11, 2014
Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg have issued a new note on a bit of a competition law bombshell included in Canada’s federal budget earlier today (Proposed Amendment to Canada’s Competition Act to Prohibit “Unjustified” Cross-Border Price Discrimination) – a plan to legislatively address perceived cross-border price discrimination being faced by Canadian consumers (reprinted with permission).
February 10, 2014
In a curious bit of competitive beer market rivalry, The Beer Store and the Ontario Convenience Stores Association were issuing dueling news releases earlier today about the debated deregulation of liquor retailing in Ontario.
Today’s beer competition duel, it seems, began with The Beer Store issuing a (Beer Store commissioned) report arguing that more competition in beer retailing in Ontario would lead to higher prices. Something of a head scratcher for a competition lawyer such as myself, given that more competition generally leads to lower prices.
New Publications: Overview of Canada’s Anti-Corruption Legislation: “Anti-Corruption Legislation in Canada”
February 7, 2014
Anti-corruption laws, particularly in Canada, have been receiving heightened attention from enforcers and commentators over the past several years. While Canada has officially had legislation prohibiting corruption of foreign public officials for some years (the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act), as a practical matter the legislation was not much enforced and apparently little attention was paid to the legislation until several recent high-profile cases including the investigation of SNC-Lavalin (which has included criminal charges laid against two former SNC-Lavalin executives – see: here). In this regard, this new practical overview of Canada’s anti-corruption legislation authored by Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg caught my eye.
February 7, 2014
The Canadian Chamber has published a new report on Canadian competitiveness, entitled: “Tackling the Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness 2014”. From the Chamber:
“Today, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce unveiled its Top 10 Barriers to Competitiveness for 2014. The Canadian Chamber undertook this initiative two years ago to draw attention to the barriers that are holding back Canada’s progress and to urge all levels of government to act more swiftly to improve our country’s ability to compete globally.
February 4, 2014
In an interesting and important development, Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal yesterday sent the Competition Bureau’s (the “Bureau”) abuse of dominance challenge against Canada’s largest real estate board back to the Competition Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) for redetermination. This case is in many ways the first decided essential facilities case in Canada under the Competition Act (the “Act”), though remains to be decided on its facts when it returns to the Tribunal.
This case involves a challenge by the Bureau against The Toronto Real Estate Board (“TREB”) for allegedly abusing its dominance under section 79 of the Act in relation to membership rules restricting the use of the board’s MLS® listing data (for example, in relation to certain types of online brokerage services). Violation of TREB’s rules may lead to consequences, including being barred from access to the board’s MLS® service or from being a member of the board.
February 3, 2014
LexisNexis Canada has published an interesting new Canadian business law text, by Bryce C. Tingle, entitled: Start-Up and Growth Companies in Canada – A Guide to Legal and Business Practice, 2nd Edition.
Given that I work with a number of start-ups and recently founded businesses, largely in relation to their marketing and advertising law needs, I thought this newly updated text that includes legal and practical considerations for start-ups, was interesting and worth posting here for Canadian start-ups and their advisors.
January 29, 2014
Jarod Bona over at The Antitrust Attorney Blog has written a very good new note on competition law compliance and real estate services, and in particular some commonsense steps that real estate salespeople can take to avoid competition law risk.
Given that many of the points discussed, including the importance of independently setting commissions, determining where to work (and for whom), the submission of bids (e.g., in the real estate foreclosure auction context) and dealing with competitors, apply equally in Canada, I thought I would reprint his note here (with permission).
January 29, 2014
The National Competition Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association has issued a call for papers for this year’s James H. Bocking Memorial Award. This annual award is presented for the best scholarly paper by a full time student or young lawyer (within the first three years of call) submitted to the Competition Law Section on a topic relating to Canadian competition law and policy.
Competition Law & Associations – Good New Update on Recent U.S. Developments: “Lessons for Associations from 2013 Antitrust Activity”
January 29, 2014
On my daily media sweep earlier today, I came across what I thought was a very good new discussion of competition law and associations, including overviews of some of the more interesting and important recent U.S. cases.
This new note by the U.S. firm Arent Fox, entitled Lessons for Associations From 2013 Antitrust Activities, discusses, among other things, the recent and ongoing Music Teachers National Association, American Quarter Horse Association and North Carolina “teeth whitening” cases (involving antitrust issues arising from membership rules, codes of ethics, standard setting, the application of the U.S. “state action immunity” doctrine, the U.S. parallel to the Canadian “regulated conduct defence”, and information sharing between association members).
Competition Law Compliance – Good New Note on What Works and What Doesn’t (According to In-house Counsel)
January 28, 2014
I work on many competition compliance programs and with a variety of organizations ranging from corporations to trade and professional associations. Questions that often arise in the context of compliance include “what is required” and “what is effective”?
In Canada, competition law compliance programs are not legislatively required under the Competition Act but the federal Competition Bureau (Canada’s competition law regulator) recommends that organizations adopt compliance programs and include five essential elements. In practice, effective compliance strategies can range from full programs (with a compliance manual, slide presentation, compliance policy and periodic training and education) to the adoption and use of compliance guidelines for key (and potentially high risk) activities.