Canada: Competition Bureau Releases New Draft Guidelines On Abuse Of Dominance

The Competition Bureau announced yesterday that it has released its long-awaited revised draft Abuse of Dominance Guidelines outlining the Bureau's approach to reviewable matters under sections 78 and 79 of the Competition Act. The newly released Guidelines are intended to replace the draft guidelines released in January, 2009, which was the first time the Bureau had updated its enforcement approach to abuse of dominance since 2001.

Abuse of dominance occurs when a dominant firm (or group of firms) in a market engage in a practice of anti-competitive acts that result, or are likely to result, in a substantial prevention or lessening of competition. Sections 78 and 79 of the Competition Act allow the Competition Tribunal, on application by the Commissioner of Competition, to prohibit dominant firms from engaging in anti-competitive practices, or to order such further remedial action as is reasonable and necessary to restore competition in the market.

To prove abuse of dominance, three principal elements must be established:

1. one or more persons substantially or completely controls, throughout Canada, a class or species of business;

2. the person or persons have engaged in a practice of anti-competitive acts; and

3. the practice has had, is having, or is likely to have the effect of preventing or lessening competition substantially in a market.

As regards the Bureau's approach to these basic elements, the 2009 Guidelines did not represent a fundamental shift. Rather, they merely updated some of the Bureau's practice in light of recent jurisprudence, most notably, the Canada Pipe case, which provided the first opportunity for the Federal Court to consider the application of the abuse of dominance provisions in sections 78 and 79 of the Act.

The new Guidelines, which replace the previous publications on abuse of dominance, are considerably shorter and more concise.  Highlights include the following:

  • The new Guidelines state explicitly that, unlike certain other jurisdictions that prohibit supra-competitive pricing by dominant firms, "charging higher prices to customers, or offering lower levels of service than would otherwise be expected in a more competitive market, will not alone constitute abuse of a dominant position."
  • The new Guidelines reiterate the view that market share is one of the most important determinants of potential market power. They also expand in several ways upon the Bureau's approach to market shares in assessing whether market power exists.
  • While reiterating that a market share of less than 35 percent will generally not prompt further examination, the Bureau's approach where a market share above 35 percent exists is now more nuanced. In the 2009 Guidelines, the Bureau said that where market share is above 35 percent it "will normally continue its investigation." The new Guidelines state that a market share between 35 and 50 percent will not give rise to a "presumption" of dominance "but may be examined by the Bureau depending on the circumstances," while a market share of 50 percent or more will generally prompt further examination.   Such an approach appears to suggest an acceptance that dominance at shares less than 50 percent will be a relatively uncommon occurrence.
  • The new Guidelines state that, in addition to an individual firm's market share, distribution of the remaining market among competitors is relevant: while greater market share is likely to increase a single firm's ability to sustain a price increase, such an exercise of market power also increases with the disparity between its market share and those of its competitors. The Bureau will also look at the durability of a firm's market share. If shares have fluctuated significantly among competitors over time (e.g., as a result of the intermittent exploitation of new technology that allows firms to "leapfrog" their rivals), a higher current market share may be less relevant to establishing market power.
  • The new Guidelines state that, although "anti–competitive act," as described in section 78 of the Act, is defined in relation to its purpose—an intended negative effect on a competitor – the Federal Court of Appeal and the Competition Tribunal have acknowledged that paragraph 78(1)(f) (which deals with buying up of products to prevent the erosion of existing price levels) is "one" exception to the requirement that an anti-competitive act be directed at a competitor. Whether use of the word "one" is intended to indicate that the Bureau believes there may be other exceptions is unclear.
  • In assessing whether a particular act is likely to be anti-competitive, the new Guidelines reiterate that the Bureau generally views conduct described in section 78 of the Act as falling into two broad categories: (i) exclusionary conduct; and (ii) predatory conduct. Unlike the 2009 Guidelines, however, details regarding the Bureau's approach with respect to specific anti-competitive acts have been removed, including raising rivals' costs, exclusive dealing, tying, bundling, bundled rebates and denial of access to a facility or service. What this means about the Bureau's current thinking on these acts is unclear, the effect of which is to diminish rather than enhance understanding of the Bureau's approach to the enforcement of section 79.
  • As with the 2009 Guidelines, the Bureau notes the inherent difficulty of distinguishing between predatory and competitive pricing. In the new Guidelines it states that one of the methods it will use to overcome some of these difficulties is an examination of whether the alleged predatory price can be matched by competitors without incurring loss, and whether the alleged predatory price is merely "meeting competition" in the sense that it is a reaction to match a competitor's pricing strategy. How the Bureau's consideration of whether a price can be matched by competitors without incurring a loss relates to the other requirements of predatory pricing, such as sale by the alleged predator below some level of cost and recoupment, is unclear.
  • The Bureau has reaffirmed that, in considering whether an impugned act prevents or lessens competition substantially, the question is not whether the absolute level of competition in a market is substantial or sufficient. Rather, the Bureau considers the relative level of competitiveness in the presence and absence of the impugned practice such that it can satisfactorily determine 'but for' the practice at issue, would there likely be greater competition in the market?

As noted in a previous post, section 79 of the Act was amended in 2009 to include administrative monetary penalties (AMPs). In cases where it finds that an abuse of dominance has occurred, the Competition Tribunal may impose a maximum AMP of C$10 million for a first infraction and C$15 million for subsequent infractions. While AMPs were introduced after the publication of the 2009 draft guidelines, it is unfortunate that the new guidelines are silent on how the Bureau will incorporate AMPs into its section 79 enforcement approach. Indeed, the new Guidelines provide no guidance on remedies at all.

The new Guidelines are open for comment by interested parties until May 22, 2012.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.