In recent years, competition/antitrust enforcers around the world, including Canada, have taken a marked interest in private equity deals. As part of a broader global trend of tougher merger enforcement, private equity firms that have taken ownership positions (controlling or minority) in portfolio companies that are competitors have been subject to heightened scrutiny. The litigation
The Canadian Competition Tribunal recently dismissed a jurisdictional challenge by HarperCollins to the Commissioner of Competition’s application for an order prohibiting the implementation of an alleged agreement between HarperCollins and other e-book publishers. The Commissioner’s application is under section 90.1 of the Competition Act (“non-criminal agreements between competitors”). It alleges, broadly speaking, that in…
Citing the desire for a balanced approach to the needs of individuals and organizations under Canada’s anti-spam law, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced today that he is delaying indefinitely the coming into force of the private right of action provisions (section 51) in Canada’s anti-spam law (CASL).
This important decision is…
This post has been prepared in collaboration with Chris Cole of Crowell & Moring law firm. Chris Cole is the Co-Chair of Crowell’s Advertising & Product Risk Management Group in Washington, D.C.
In less than three months, Canada will introduce a private right of action arising from false or misleading representations made in electronic messages. These provisions target false or misleading advertisements in, for example, email and social media and arguably capture website advertising based on the law’s broad definition of “electronic message.” Government-initiated enforcement of these provisions has already taken place through Canada’s Competition Bureau since 2014, which has led to Consent Agreements against Avis, Budget (following a contested application), Amazon, Hertz, and Dollar Thrifty. Even more concerning, the law applies statutory penalties to each violation. The closest United States analog to such a law would be the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which carries penalties for violation of up to $1500 per violation.
The new private right of action is expected to give rise to significant class action litigation in Canada, including against US and global businesses that engage in digital advertising in Canada. It is also expected to be an attractive method of challenging a competitor’s representations regarding a product or service. Driving these incentives will be the law’s statutory penalties of $200 per occurrence (not to exceed $1 million per day).
The following outlines the nature of this private right of action and take-aways for businesses that advertise in Canada.
Now that 2017 has arrived, we are less than seven months away from private enforcement (particularly through class actions) for false or misleading electronic messages. CASL’s amendments to the Competition Act sought to address deceptive marketing practices in the electronic marketplace. Three reviewable practices were created – all within section 74.011 of the Competition Act – that focus on false or misleading representations in electronic messages, such as in the subject line of an email, the body of an email and in URLs and metadata.
To date, public enforcement of section 74.011 through the Competition Bureau has taken place on two occasions: the Avis and Budget Consent Agreement (following a contested application before the Competition Tribunal) and the Amazon Consent Agreement.
As discussed below, private enforcement of section 74.011 of the Competition Act by way of class actions is forthcoming. Companies that engage in any form of digital marketing are best served by being proactive to prevent becoming a defendant of choice.
Online reviews and endorsements are a growing tool used by businesses to sell their products and services. Last month, the Canadian Competition Bureau (with international partners) conducted a “sweep” of the internet targeting online reviews and endorsements. The sweep is identifying websites that use online reviews or endorsements as part of their business model. The…
Recent developments in Canadian competition law have caused the defence of criminal prosecutions and class action litigation under the Competition Act to be increasingly intertwined. The most significant of these developments is the Supreme Court of Canada’s trilogy of decisions that make it easier for indirect purchasers to bring competition class action claims.
On May 23, 2014, the first individual in Canada ever convicted of violating Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act (the “CFPOA”) was sentenced to three years in prison. The individual, Nazir Karigar, was convicted of offering or agreeing to bribe a foreign official in contravention of the CFPOA on August 15, 2013, following a…
On March 20, 2014, the Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) released for public comment draft price maintenance enforcement guidelines. The draft guidelines are the Bureau’s first official statement regarding price maintenance since the decriminalization of price maintenance under the Competition Act (the “Act”). Through the decriminalization, the per se criminal offence was replaced with a…
The principal Canadian competition law theme in 2013, as with the year before, was enforcement. Criminal enforcement in the areas of price-fixing, bid-rigging and misleading advertising continued with new guilty pleas against various companies and individuals (e.g. auto parts, air cargo, chocolate, real estate advisory services contracts, gasoline and retail multiple telemarketing schemes). The Competition Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) released two decisions involving the Toronto Real Estate Board (“TREB”) and VISA and MasterCard that provided significant interpretations of the scope of the abuse of dominance and price maintenance provisions of the Competition Act (the “Act”). The Superior Court of Ontario also released its decision dismissing, in part, the Competition Bureau’s (the “Bureau”) misleading advertising charge against Rogers and Chat-r with respect to the claim of “fewest dropped calls”. Finally, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal in Tervita Corporation v Commission of Competition. Five months earlier, the Federal Court of Appeal (“FCA”) upheld the order of the Tribunal requiring Tervita Corporation to divest the Babkirk hazardous waste landfill site in northern British Columbia that it obtained through its acquisition of Complete Environmental Inc.
With respect to private litigation, the Supreme Court of Canada released a trilogy of long awaited decisions in proposed class proceedings brought by indirect purchasers of products alleging competition law violations. The Supreme Court concluded, among other things, that indirect purchasers have a cause of action, resolving a conflict in appellate jurisprudence in Canada. The Supreme Court’s decisions are expected to have a profound impact upon cartel-related class actions in Canada.
2013 also saw John Pecman appointed as Commissioner of Competition on June 12, 2013 for a five-year term. Prior to his appointment as Commissioner, Mr. Pecman held the position of Interim Commissioner from September 2012 to June 2013.
Our Bulletin reports on these and other developments.