The provisions 45, 46 and 48 of the Competition Act prohibit agreements between two or more persons to prevent or lessen competition. Agreements between competitors to fix prices, to allocate customers or geographic markets, or to restrict production of a product by setting quotas among competitors or other means are considered to be "hard-core" cartel activities, with no socially redeeming features. Anti-competitive agreements harm both consumers and businesses, and enforcing the conspiracy provisions is an important priority for the Bureau. Much of the Bureau's work in this area involves investigating and prosecuting international cartels, which is a crucial activity for competition agencies around the world.
Price-fixing conspiracies are by their nature difficult to detect and prove. Suspicions and evidence of identical prices are not enough to prove a criminal offence. Securing a cartel conviction under Canadian laws requires the Competition Bureau to submit evidence that proves, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there is an agreement between competitors to fix prices.
Penalties for price-fixing include fines up to $25 million, imprisonment to a maximum term of fourteen years, or both. Courts also can impose orders to prevent the parties to a conspiracy from continuing or repeating the offence.
- Date modified: