On September 10, 2015, Christopher Staines filed a class action in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against numerous banks for their role in an alleged conspiracy contrary to section 45 of the Competition Act (the “Act”). Staines claims, among other things, that the defendant banks had conspired, agreed and/or arranged with each other to fix, maintain, increase, or unreasonably enhance the price of foreign exchange (FX) currencies purchased between January 1, 2003 and December 31, 2013.
As Canada’s Competition Bureau has neither laid charges nor announced an investigation into an alleged conspiracy to fix the price of FX currencies, it appears that the plaintiff is relying solely on information publicly announced in the United States and other jurisdictions to found his claim.
Indeed, on May 20th, the United States Department of Justice announced that four banks had pleaded guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of U.S. dollars and European Euros in the FX currency spot market. Combined, these banks were fined more than US$ 2.5 billion.
In order to succeed, the plaintiff must establish, among other things, a jurisdictional connection to Canada. In other words, the plaintiff must establish that the alleged conspiracy has a real and substantial connection to Canada. As much of the information contained in Staines’ statement of claim is based on conduct that appears to have transpired outside of Canada, it is unclear whether such a connection could be established. What is more clear, however, is that this matter is extremely complex, and it is unlikely to be resolved in short order.