Amidst news of COVID-19 case counts, shuttered shops and volatile markets, competition law compliance may not necessarily be the most pressing issue that comes to mind. While “this too shall pass,” it remains important in the meantime that businesses avoid the unique competition-related risks and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In particular, efforts by Canadian businesses to collaborate with their competitors to protect stakeholders and their families from COVID-19 risks—however laudable or socially beneficial—remain subject to the Competition Act (Act) and associated compliance risks. In its recent communications, the Competition Bureau (Bureau) has indicated an intent to prioritize collusion, deceptive marketing, and other “urgent marketplace issues” during the pandemic. For transacting parties or parties subject to current Bureau investigations, it is also important to note that the Bureau has warned of the potential for COVID-19 to delay its processes.