Canada’s Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) recently signed a new competition enforcement agreement, the Multilateral Mutual Assistance and Cooperation Framework for Competition Authorities (“MMAC”), with competition authorities in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand. The MMAC is intended to improve the Bureau’s ability to cooperate with its counterparts in cross-border investigations, competition policy development, competition advocacy and outreach, inter-organizational training and on special projects.
The Bureau advances international enforcement cooperation and convergence in three general ways. The first is through bilateral and multilateral relationships. The Bureau has developed an extensive network of cooperation relationships with competition agencies around the world. Many of these are based on bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements (many in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding). In addition to the MMAC, the Bureau currently has cooperation instruments relating to Canada’s competition and consumer protection laws with 15 foreign jurisdictions. It is interesting to note that the MMAC is the first direct cooperation agreement with the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority.
Other legal tools, such as the U.S.-Canada Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, have permitted the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bureau to conduct joint and parallel investigations into criminal price-fixing investigations. So called ‘second generation MOUs’, along with reciprocal information gateway provisions (such as section 29 of the Competition Act, which deals with the treatment of confidential information in the Bureau’s possession), address the exchange of confidential information between Canada and other jurisdictions, such as Hong Kong and Japan. The MMCA is a second generation MOU that will permit the reciprocal exchange of confidential information and cross-border evidence gathering between the signatories.
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