On November 10, 2015, the Competition Bureau (Bureau) released
the final version of the Competition and Compliance Framework
bulletin following a period of public comment
on the draft released in May 2015. This bulletin replaces the
Bureau's previous Conformity Continuum bulletin, last updated
in 2000, and underscores the Bureau's recent priority focus on
competition law compliance.
The bulletin establishes five governing principles that are
intended to guide the Bureau's compliance and enforcement
activities in both civil and criminal matters. This articulation
not only provides helpful guidance but also arguably increases the
Bureau's accountability to the business community.
1) Confidentiality: The Bureau will continue to adopt proper
safeguards to protect confidential information to ensure the
integrity of the investigative process and commercially sensitive
information provided to the Bureau.
2) Fairness: The Bureau will be fair in its decisions and try to
strike the right balance between enforcement and compliance.
3) Predictability: The Bureau will provide appropriate
background information on its decisions and publish its position on
as many issues as possible, which should make Bureau positions more
predictable and allow businesses to arrange their affairs to be in
compliance with the law.
4) Timeliness: The Bureau will strive to deal with issues
5) Transparency: The Bureau will be as open as possible in the
circumstances, develop appropriate service standards, develop
performance standards, and be prepared to be judged according to
The bulletin also outlines the various outreach, enforcement and
advocacy instruments used by the Bureau to promote compliance with
the Competition Act:
Outreach: Whether in the form of general information about the
Bureau and its mandate; formal guidance in the context of
bulletins, policies and procedures; or specific guidance through
matter-related position statements, discussion papers or workshops,
outreach is an important tool in the Bureau's compliance
promotion efforts. For the business community, these forms of
guidance — and, in particular, increasingly frequent and
transparent specific guidance — may provide useful insight
into the Bureau's analytical approach and views on specific
issues and industries.
Enforcement: While voluntary compliance is the objective, the
Bureau has a range of instruments available for the resolution of
non-compliance, including through consensual means, such as
negotiated consent agreements in the civil context and immunity and
leniency applications in the criminal context, or litigation in
both criminal and civil matters.
Advocacy: As part of its advocacy and promotion efforts, the
Bureau conducts market studies and engages the public for feedback
and comments, and may be expected to increasingly provide advice to
other government regulators through its recently established
Competition Promotion Branch.
While it remains to be seen whether the issuance of the bulletin
foreshadows an uptick in enforcement action by the Bureau, it does
highlight the Bureau's ongoing commitment to compliance and
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.
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