October 04, 2017
Partner Linda Plumpton has told Law Times the Competition Bureau could be deterring companies from coming forward if they’re to change the existing leniency and immunity programs, after it announced a program review for this year.
The two programs are in place to help combat cartels and uncover other crimes carried out under the Competition Act. They’re designed to provide an incentive for companies to offer information to the Bureau to assist exposing these activities in exchange for protection from prosecution or a reduced penalty.
The current system sees the first company to cooperate with the Bureau receive immunity from prosecution, and the second and third company gets varying degrees of leniency.
The article says the changes to the immunity program could see immunity granted on a conditional basis only, which assumes cooperation in a timely fashion. The new program could also include forcing lawyers to disclose their clients sooner when they contact the Bureau to ask about immunity or leniency.
Proposed changes for the leniency program could see the first-in, best-dressed policy scrapped with the discount to be determined by the level of cooperation.
“Whatever changes are proposed to the immunity and leniency programs need to be very clear about what the expectations are that are going to be placed on parties, given what I would consider to [be] the greater risk that the parties are going to be exposed to in entering the program,” Linda told Law Times.
Linda said because of the severity of the decision, for a party to make an application for immunity or leniency at the Competition Bureau, they needed to be able to do so on a fully informed basis.
“I worry that the obligations that they are proposing are going to act as a further deterrent to parties that are considering [applying] under the program and may ultimately lead to a result that is not desirable for the bureau,” she said.