Heller, Rubel defends individuals and corporations charged with offences under the Competition Act. We also provide opinions and advice as to whether or not current or proposed future business practices are in compliance with the Competition Act.
Offences under the Competition Act are investigated by the Competition Bureau. At Heller, Rubel we pride ourselves in having a good working relationship with the Bureau. As the Bureau’s ultimate goal is always to protect the public and ensure and obtain compliance with the Competition Act, it may be possible to avoid charges being laid entirely. The Bureau is generally open to discussing a variety of resolution options that do not result in charges or, if charges are required, restricting those charges to a corporation and avoiding charges against individual officers of the corporation.
Generally speaking, offences under the Competition Act fall into three categories: Restraint of Trade, Price Fixing and Deceptive Marketing Practices.
Restraint of trade offences include matters such as bid-rigging where all or a majority of tenders on a project agree with each other to set their bids at a high rate in order to maximize profits. Price maintenance or “price fixing” occurs when all or a majority of the companies in a particular industry agree to set their prices artificially high to avoid competing with each other and thus maximizing their own profits. Deceptive marketing practices include misleading advertising, misleading telemarketing and offences relating to pyramid selling and multi-level marketing plans.
Offences under the Competition Act are true criminal offences with all the attendant consequences. Although the offences are sometimes described as “regulatory” in nature, a conviction under the Competition Act will result in a criminal record and can have a significant impact on future employment opportunities and international travel. It is not uncommon for persons charged under the Competition Act to also be charged with offences under the Criminal Code, such as fraud.
Heller, Rubel focuses on the “criminal side” of the Competition Act. Where the “civil side” is engaged and the matter comes before a Competition Tribunal, our firm will refer experienced civil counsel as required and work closely with civil counsel should there be an overlap between the criminal and civil matters.