Immunity and Leniency Programs

Fact Sheet

March 26, 2015

The Immunity and Leniency Programs are among the Bureau's best weapons to combat criminal cartels under the Competition Act. These programs have consistently proven to be an effective means of uncovering and breaking cartel activities prohibited by the Act. Without them, many cartels would go undetected.

How the Immunity Program works

Under the Immunity Program, the first party to disclose to the Bureau a cartel-related offence not yet detected, or to provide evidence leading to the filing of charges for a cartel-related offence, may receive immunity from prosecution from the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC).

Any individual or organization can apply for immunity. To qualify, a party must end its participation in the illegal activity; must not have coerced others to be part of the illegal activity; and must, throughout the course of the Bureau's investigation and any subsequent prosecution, provide complete, timely and ongoing cooperation at its own expense. If a company qualifies for immunity, all current directors, officers and employees who admit their involvement in the illegal anti‑competitive activity as part of the corporate admission, and who provide complete, timely and ongoing cooperation, also qualify for the same recommendation for immunity. Whether agents and former directors, officers and employees qualify for immunity will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

How the Leniency Program works

The Leniency Program complements the Immunity Program by supporting the effective and efficient enforcement of the Act. Any individual or organization that does not qualify for immunity can apply for leniency. The Bureau will recommend to the PPSC that qualifying applicants be granted recognition for timely and meaningful assistance to the Bureau's investigation and any subsequent prosecution. Their early admission and cooperation respecting their role in a cartel-related offence can earn them a substantial basis for lenient treatment in sentencing.

For example, the first leniency applicant is eligible for a reduction of 50 percent of the fine that would otherwise have been recommended, provided that the applicant meets the requirements of the Leniency Program, including pleading guilty and providing full, frank, timely and truthful cooperation. 

How to apply for immuity or leniency

Requests for immunity and leniency for cartel-related offences must be made to the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Competition (SDC), Criminal Matters Branch. The SDC can be reached at 819-997-1208.

More information on the Bureau’s Immunity and Leniency Programs can be found on our website.
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