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Competition Litigation

Competition Litigation
Competition Litigation

For its numbers, clients and caseload, rivals freely admit that Blake, Cassels & Graydon houses the top competition practice in Canada.

Global Competition Review's GCR 100

Blakes competition litigators play a key role in Canada’s largest and most experienced competition law practice. Blakes is frequently at the forefront of high-profile competition litigation matters, including contentious mergers, class actions, deceptive marketing, advertising, abuse of dominance, competitor collaborations, reviewable trade practices and other civil matters before the Canadian Competition Tribunal, the provincial or federal courts and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Our lawyers have litigated many of Canada’s most high-profile Competition Act (Act) cases. These include the first abuse of dominance case to reach the Supreme Court of Canada, the only Federal Court of Appeal decision to address patents under the Act, the only (civil) price maintenance case, the first case considering the Act’s competitor collaboration provisions, the only appellate level case on the application of the Act’s cartel provisions to agreements between purchasers of goods or services, the only Competition Tribunal case to address the Regulated Conduct Doctrine, and numerous cases developing standards for cartel prosecutions and class action certification and defences in the cartel context.

Blakes lawyers are extensively involved in the increasingly important area of antitrust class actions. We have represented defendants in leading antitrust class actions, including the Supreme Court of Canada’s seminal Pro-Sys decision and, more recently, the court’s decision in Godfrey. Blakes lawyers have had leading roles in almost every significant competition class action in Canada, including with respect to credit cards, computer operating systems and applications, ODDs, beer, bread, air cargo, auto parts, capacitors, car carrier services, chemicals, chocolate, CRTs, DRAM memory chips, hydrogen peroxide, LCDs, lithium ion batteries, polyurethane foam, rubber, and vitamins, such as the vitamins case that became the first major class action of its kind. Our lawyers have also been involved in every major cartel investigation in Canada and have secured immunity and leniency in relation to some of Canada's most high-­profile cartel cases and follow-on private (class) actions.
Blakes is also at the forefront of merger litigation. There are six merger cases that form the primary body of merger jurisprudence in Canada. Blakes has represented the parties in all five of the cases in which the parties were successful (Southam, CP Ships, Hillsdown, Superior Propane and Labatt). Most recently, Blakes represented United Continental Airlines (regarding its alliance agreements with Air Canada) and Office Depot, Inc. (regarding its merger with Staples, Inc.) before the Competition Tribunal. In addition, Blakes lawyers have acted as litigation counsel in some of the most vigorously contested “consent order” cases where there was concerted opposition by intervenors such as Chapters/Indigo, Interac and Imperial Oil.
We have represented numerous clients in connection with confidential abuse of dominance investigations or inquiries conducted by the Competition Bureau, some of which became public upon proceeding to litigation, such as e-books, Vancouver Airport Authority, Air Canada/CanJet, Tele-Direct and Nutrasweet. We acted as lead counsel in the Federal Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Canada in Canada Pipe, the first of only two abuse of dominance cases to go to those courts, and the Supreme Court of Canada in the only other such abuse of dominance case, TREB. Blakes also acted for Visa Inc. in respect of a landmark Competition Tribunal case under the reviewable price maintenance provision of the Act. Blakes lawyers have also represented clients in refusal-to-deal cases that went to the Competition Tribunal, such as Fred Deeley and Wyeth.
We are at the forefront of deceptive marketing and advertising cases, including in litigated matters where we represented Bell Aliant in defence of a successful injunction relating to misleading advertising claims; The Yellow Pages Group, the complainant, in a landmark prosecution by the Commissioner against a company that was misrepresenting itself as Yellow Pages; and the Commissioner in his recent investigation of FlightHub/JustFly, resulting in the first Temporary Consent Agreement under the Act.
Much of the Firm's work in the litigation area involves strategic advice to best position matters for success in the event of litigation, as well as preventing problems before they lead to litigation through prudent advice concerning the structuring of business transactions and the conduct of business affairs.

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Recent Experience
  • The Toronto Real Estate Board in its appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada in connection with a Competition Bureau challenge under the Competition Act.

  • Dow Chemical in its C$1-billion-plus litigation with NOVA Chemicals Corporation with respect to operation of facilities under a joint venture.

  • Samsung Electronics Canada Inc. in connection with the scope of competition law class actions and the tests for certification of such actions (Pioneer Corp. v. Godfrey, 2019 SCC).

  • Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. with respect to various class action proceedings in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec involving alleged price-fixing with respect to optical disk drives in violation of the Competition Act.

  • Qualcomm Incorporated in respect of national class actions related to cell-phone technology.

  • Labatt Brewing Company Limited with respect to a class action brought in Ontario against the LCBO, The Beer Store and a certain number of its shareholders.

  • Office Depot, Inc. with respect to the Competition Bureau’s challenge of its merger with Staples, Inc.

  • Nestlé Canada Inc. on its successful defence of alleged violations of the criminal conspiracy provisions of the Competition Act and in defence of a national class action alleging conspiracy to fix prices of chocolate.

  • Microsoft Corporation with respect to a class action alleging anti-competitive conduct with respect to operating systems and applications software.

  • Visa Canada Inc. on its successful defence of a price maintenance application filed by the Commissioner of Competition and defending and resolving national class actions.

  • Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. with respect to class-action proceedings in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec involving alleged price-fixing regarding RoRo car carrier services.

  • Mohawk Industries, Inc. in a class action brought against manufacturers of carpet and carpet underlay foam in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec in respect of alleged price-fixing.

  • Imperial Oil before the Alberta Court of Appeal, where the trial decision concerning a civil conspiracy claim under the Competition Act was successfully reversed (321665 Alberta Ltd. v. Husky Oil Operations Ltd.).

  • Defended against cartel prosecutions and class actions in respect of (numerous) auto parts, audio-video products, car carrier (vessel) services, chemicals, flooring, insulation and vitamins, most recently for global companies such as Autoliv, Mitsui OSK, Mohawk Industries and Yazaki, successfully securing dismissals, immunity or leniency and other resolutions.

Awards & Recognition

Blakes was named Competition Regional Firm of the Year – Americas in the 2019 GCR Awards and Competition Law Firm of the Year in the 2018 Benchmark Canada Awards.

Members of our Competition, Antitrust & Foreign Investment group are consistently ranked as leading practitioners in the most recent editions of the following publications:

  • Global Competition Review’s GCR 100– Blakes ranked in the “Elite” category, the review’s highest designation: The Firm “continues to be at the top of Canadian competition law, and is considered ‘the firm to beat’ by several of its rivals.”

  • Chambers Global: The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business (Competition/Antitrust) – Blakes ranked in Band 1: “The Blakes Competition, Antitrust & Foreign Investment Group is widely acknowledged as the leading practice in Canada. Blakes houses a formidable team of practitioners….”

  • Chambers Canada: Canada’s Leading Lawyers for Business (Competition/Antitrust) – Blakes ranked in Band 1. Clients were quoted as saying: “They are world-class – they really do support not only our legal needs but also our business needs.”

  • The Legal 500 Canada (Competition/Antitrust) – Blakes ranked in the top tier with clients referring to us as “market leader.”

  • Benchmark Canada: The Definitive Guide to Canada’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys

  • The Lexpert/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada

  • The Best Lawyers in Canada (Competition/Antitrust Law)

  • The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory

  • The Lexpert Guide to the Leading US/Canada Cross-Border Litigation Lawyers in Canada

  • Who's Who Legal: Competition

  • Who's Who Legal: Competition – Thought Leaders

  • Who's Who Legal: Thought Leaders – Global Elite (Competition)

  • Who’s Who Legal: Canada – Competition

  • Who's Who Legal: Competition – Future Leaders