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Canadian Antitrust Laws - The Purpose of the Competition Act

Section 1.1 of the Competition Act states:

"The purpose of this Act is to maintain and encourage competition in Canada in order to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy, in order to expand opportunities for Canadian participation in world markets while at the same time recognizing the role of foreign competition in Canada, in order to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises have an equitable opportunity to participate in the Canadian economy and in order to provide consumers with competitive prices and product choices."

Some of the issues addressed are:

  • regulation of mergers and acquisitions among businesses with the policy goal of ensuring adequate and healthy competition within the economy;
  • conspiracy to lessen competition;
  • an agreement or arrangement between or among two or more persons whereby one or more of those persons agrees or undertakes not to submit a bid in response to a call or request for bids or tenders;
  • to limit unreasonably the opportunities for any other person to participate, as a player or competitor, in professional sport or to impose unreasonable terms or conditions on those persons who so participate;
  • agreements to fix prices;
  • knowingly or recklessly make a representation to the public that is false or misleading in a material respect;
  • engaging in a scheme of pyramid selling;

Canadian Antitrust Laws - Enforcement of the Competition Act - The Competition Bureau

The Commissioner of Competition heads the Competition Bureau and is Canada's chief antitrust enforcement official. The Commissioner is appointed by the federal cabinet and has exclusive statutory responsibility for administration and enforcement of the Competition Act. The Commissioner can launch inquiries, challenge civil matters before the Competition Tribunal and refer evidence of criminal offenses to Canada's Attorney General (who then decides whether to launch criminal proceedings).

The Commissioner is obliged to commence a formal inquiry whenever:

  • a criminal offense has been, or is about to be, committed;
  • grounds exist for the Tribunal to make an order regarding a reviewable practice;
  • so directed by the federal Minister of Industry; or
  • on the sworn application of six Canadian residents.

The Competition Bureau is part of the federal Department of Industry and provides administrative support to the Commissioner. Deputy Commissioners and Chief Officers are appointed to oversee separate branches which enforce the merger, marketing practices, civil matters, criminal matters and marketing practices portions of the Competition Act. There are also two support branches: Compliance and Operations and Economics and International Affairs. In addition, the Amendments Branch has responsibility to amend the Competition Act


Adjudicating Alleged Violations of the Competition Act

The Competition Tribunal is Canada's adjudicative body for competition law and is governed by the Competition Tribunal Act. It is composed of both judges from the Federal Court - Trial Division and non-judicial members who are experts in the fields of business or economics.

The Tribunal has neither investigatory powers nor independent authority to consider a matter except on referral by the Commissioner of Competition who will first conduct a thorough investigation and attempt to resolve any antitrust concerns. Private parties do not have the right to initiate proceedings respecting a reviewable practice that the Commissioner has declined to challenge.

However, interested parties may "intervene" once the Commissioner has initiated a Tribunal proceeding. Parties may appeal a Tribunal decision as if it was a decision of the Federal Court - Trial Division.

Canadian Antitrust Laws - Links to more Information

Competition Act

Competition Tribunal Act

Competition Tribunal Website

 

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