Numerous countries around the world are currently reviewing their competition laws and policies. This review is focussed on both the purpose of competition law generally and whether existing laws are “fit for purpose”, particularly in the context of today’s rapidly changing and highly disruptive digital economy. The debate around these issues has been fierce to
Chris Margison has over 20 years of private and public sector legal experience, including as Special Advisor to both the Commissioner of Competition and the Senior Deputy Commissioner, Cartels Directorate at the Competition Bureau.
Competition, marketing and foreign investment law saw a number of changes in the past year. Many of these changes were in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, which has changed every aspect of how Canadians, businesses and government agencies operate. Despite the pandemic, the Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) has actively continued its enforcement activity and provided a number of guidance documents to help businesses stay onside the Competition Act (the “Act”). Similarly, Canada’s Investment Review Division also had to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Below we discuss ten key themes seen in the competition, marketing and foreign investment law space this year, and discuss what the year ahead has in store.…
Continue Reading What 2020 tells us about 2021 and beyond: Fasken’s Year-End Review of the Top 10 Trends in Canadian Competition, Marketing & Foreign Investment Law
On May 21, 2020, the Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) released its Model Timing Agreement for Merger Reviews involving Efficiencies (the “Model Timing Agreement”), which includes guidance intended to inform businesses and their advisors of the Bureau’s approach to the analysis of efficiencies claims, the circumstances in which the Bureau will consider…
As previously discussed in our Refresher on the Failing Firm Defence, many companies will be facing insolvency or bankruptcy in the aftermath of COVID-19. This could lead to a situation in which financially stronger companies want to purchase struggling competitors. In this context, it is likely that the Competition Bureau will be asked to approve otherwise “problematic” mergers on the basis of what is commonly known at the “failing firm” defence.
On April 29, 2020, the Bureau issued a Position Statement providing additional guidance on the failing firm defence and, in particular, the types of information that are most relevant for a timely and efficient analysis of a failing firm. The key aspects of this guidance are summarized in this blog post.
In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic with declining demand and excess capacity in many sectors, companies will want to take advantage of opportunities to increase operational efficiencies, including through mergers and acquisitions. Where such mergers are efficiency motivated, there may be increased scope for merging parties to use the efficiencies defence in Canada – something that was successfully done by Canadian National Railway Company late last year in connection with its acquisition of H&R Transport Limited (the “Transaction”).
Competition Bureau Review
Following its review of the Transaction, the Competition Bureau concluded that the Transaction would likely result in a substantial lessening of competition for full truckload refrigerated intermodal services in eight relevant markets in Canada. In particular, the Bureau found that CN would be able to charge higher prices and provide lower quality service to customers in those markets. However, as discussed in more detail in its New Release and Position Statement issued last week, the Bureau ultimately decided to discontinue its investigation and allow the Transaction to proceed after concluding that the efficiencies defence had been satisfied.…
Continue Reading The Efficiencies Defence – Here We Go Again!
As discussed in our previous post, on April 18, 2020, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry released a policy statement announcing that, in light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, certain foreign investments into Canada will be subject to enhanced scrutiny under the Investment Canada Act (the “Act”).
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted just about every aspect of our personal and professional lives. From where we work and shop to how we stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues – nothing is the same as it was even just a couple of months ago!
M&A practices are also changing as businesses and…
On April 18, 2020, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry released a policy statement announcing that certain foreign investments into Canada will be subject to enhanced scrutiny under the Investment Canada Act (the “Act”), in light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.In particular, the Government will scrutinize “foreign direct investment of any value,…
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in countless ways. For example, most of us are now working remotely for our home offices, living rooms or kitchen tables. In-person meetings have been replaced by video calls, email and texts. This is expected to continue for weeks – if not months – as governments at all levels are requesting that Canadians stay home in an attempt to “flatten the curve”.
While statistics aren’t available, it’s reasonable to assume that the number of documents being created and retained by businesses has increased since the pandemic began. In many cases, these documents are likely being drafted quickly and without regard to the tremendous impact that they could have on the business, including in the context of future antitrust investigation or proceedings. A short refresher on document creation – including the problems that bad or hot documents may create – is in order.
On March 18, 2020, the Commissioner of Competition (the “Commissioner”) issued an open letter to the executive members of the Canadian Bar Association’s Competition Law Section regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Competition Bureau’s (the “Bureau”) enforcement processes. In this letter, the Commissioner stated that “the Bureau may … need to prioritize urgent marketplace issues that require immediate action to protect Canadians”. While the Commissioner did not provide specific examples of “urgent market issues”, a subsequent statement issued by the Bureau suggests that these issues include, among other things, deceptive marketing practices relating to COVID-19 and, in particular, false, misleading or unsubstantiated performance claims about a product’s ability to prevent, treat or cure the virus.