1. What is your country's primary competition
The Competition Bureau ("the Bureau") is Canada's
primary competition authority. The Bureau is an independent agency
within the federal Department of Industry ("Industry
Canada"). The Bureau is headed by the Commissioner of
Competition ("the Commissioner"), who is appointed by the
2. Does your competition authority have investigatory
power? Can it bring criminal proceedings based on competition
The Bureau is responsible for administering and enforcing
Canada's competition legislation, the Competition Act, R.S.C.,
1985, c. C-34 ("the Act"). The Act includes both criminal
offences and "reviewable practices" (ie, non-criminal
civil matters). The Bureau is responsible for investigating alleged
violations of the Act, both criminal and civil. To that end, the
Bureau has considerable investigatory powers at its disposal,
including the ability to obtain judicially authorised orders to
conduct search and seizures (dawn raids), compel the production of
documents and responses to interrogatories under oath, examine
witnesses under oath, and intercept communications by electronic
The Bureau may commence civil proceedings under the Act before a
specialised administrative body known as the Competition Tribunal
("the Tribunal"). However, responsibility for conducting
criminal prosecutions under the Act resides with the federal Public
Prosecutions Service of Canada ("the PPSC"). The
Bureau's role in this regard is to refer matters to the PPSC
when the Bureau believes the cases warrant criminal prosecution.
The decision to prosecute, however, is that of the PPSC.
3. Can private antitrust claims proceed parallel to
investigations and proceedings brought by competition authorities
and criminal prosecutors and appeals from them?
Follow-on private actions with respect to criminal offences
under the Act (see A11 below) may proceed parallel to
investigations and prosecutions. It is not mandatory for plaintiffs
to wait for criminal proceedings to be completed to commence an
action. That said, there are certain evidentiary benefits available
to civil plaintiffs where defendants have already been convicted of
a criminal offence under the Act (see A5 below).
4. Is there any mechanism for staying a stand-alone
private claim while a related public investigation or proceeding
(or an appeal) is pending?
The ability to do so is very limited. If a party is charged with
a violation of the Act's criminal provisions, that party can
bring a motion to stay any related civil proceedings pending the
resolution of the criminal proceedings. In order to have the civil
proceedings stayed on this basis, the party must show that it would
suffer prejudice if it were required to continue the civil case
while the criminal proceedings are pending.
5. Are the findings of competition authorities and court
decisions binding or persuasive in follow-on private antitrust
cases? Do they have an evidentiary value or create a rebuttable
presumption that the competition laws were violated? Are foreign
enforcers' decisions taken into account? Can decisions by
sector-specific regulators be used by private
The court "record of proceedings" from a criminal
prosecution under the Act may be used in a follow-on civil action
as prima facie proof that the defendant in the civil action
committed the offence in question. Furthermore, any evidence
proffered in the criminal proceedings as to the effect of the
defendant's conduct may be used as evidence of the same in any
follow-on private action. Decisions of foreign enforcers and
sector-specific regulators are not of any probative value.
The HR Guidelines focus attention on an area that is not typically regarded as an antitrust "hot spot" but has been the subject of several high-profile proceedings in recent years in the United States.
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