The amendments to the Competition Act contained in the Budget Implementation Act (Bill C-10) – which received royal assent on March 12, 2009 – are now in force. These amendments significantly impact the business of advertising and marketing in the following ways:

Increase in Civil Penalties for Non-Compliance ("Administrative Monetary Penalties"):

Under section 74 of the Act, the penalties for non-criminal violations have been dramatically increased as follows: see table

 Increase in Criminal Penalties:

Under section 52 of the Act, the maximum term of imprisonment for criminal deceptive marketing has been increased from 5 years to 14 years.

Proving Violations Easier:

Regarding the criminal and reviewable practice provisions of the Act, it is no longer necessary to establish that:

  1. any person was actually deceived or misled by the representation
  2. any recipient of the ad was in Canada; or
  3. the representation was made in a place to which the public had access.  

New Powers of Competition Tribunal:

The Competition Tribunal now has the ability to:

  1. set and require businesses to pay restitution to victims of deceptive marketing practices; and
  2. freeze assets and prevent the disposal of property before a finding against the advertiser, in order to ensure that money is available for restitution to harmed consumers.  

The Budget Implementation Act (Bill C-10) also impacts many other areas of Canadian competition law. For further details please click here.