On September 29, 2016, the Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) released a revised consent agreement template for merger remedy negotiations. The release of the Bureau’s updated template is timely, as the number of consent agreements registered with the Competition Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) have risen significantly since the last template was published in 2007.
This year alone, 6 consent agreements have been registered with the Tribunal, compared to the 2 agreements that were registered in 2007. Since 2007, more than 30 consent agreements have been registered with Tribunal, following remedy negotiations between the Bureau and the merging parties.
The intent of the consent agreement template is to provide formal guidance to the legal and business communities in respect of the Bureau’s expectations when negotiating measures to address competitive issues likely to arise from a proposed merger.
Despite the publication of this guidance document designed to facilitate a conciliatory resolution, the Bureau noted in its accompanying press release that it “will not compromise its responsibility to preserve competition in the marketplace by contested proceedings.” In that regard, the Bureau is keeping true to the commitments it outlined in its 2016-2017 annual plan, namely its focus on “high-impact enforcement cases, merger reviews and outreach, including the advancement of a number of ongoing cases and projects.”