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Blakes lawyer named GC of Competition Bureau

|Written By Jennifer Brown
Blakes lawyer named GC of Competition Bureau
Randall Hofley is joining the Competition Bureau for a two-year term.

Randall Hofley has been named general counsel and senior enforcement adviser at the Competition Bureau Legal Services.

Hofley, a partner at Blake Cassels & Graydon LLP’s competition, antitrust and foreign investment group, will join CBLS for a two-year term. He will remain a partner at Blakes but will be on leave under the federal government’s Interchange Program.

Hofley will be a senior investigation and litigation counsel. The bureau investigates violations of the Competition Act and often requires counsel for legal advice in respect of those investigations.

“The bureau also pursues litigation in the Competition Tribunal and so I would be trial and appellant counsel for the bureau on those matters,” he says.

Those matters include mergers and matters such as abuse of dominance and deceptive marketing.

“The criminal provisions of the Act are investigated by the bureau but enforced by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. On that side, I will be an adviser but not not part of PPSC,” he says.

“Basically, I’ll be an adviser to Commissioner [John] Pecman and the other bureau senior management in respect of all provisions of the Act.”

The two-year term is under an interchange agreement with the government of Canada, which allows people in the private sector to go for a set term to work for the government and to bring their private sector expertise and gain the public sector expertise.

“I was interested in working with Commissioner Pecman and with his dedicated and professional team with a hope to making a contribution to the enforcement of competition law as well as the development of competition law and policy in Canada. I had a hand in doing that when I was special counsel to the commissioner,” he says.

Pecman is in his final six months at the Competition Bureau as he is leaving effective July 1 when his term ends.

“I look forward to working with whomever is the new commissioner,” Hofley says.

There are 17 lawyers at the CBLS who work in conjunction with the officers of the bureau who are investigators. Hofley says those officers of the bureau are “many more” in number and often have legal or economics backgrounds.

Hofley said he couldn’t comment on the current bread price-fixing case involving three large grocery store chains in Canada.

“A lot of these cases have been going on for a very long time and so there will already be people involved in those cases,” he says. “Under the interchange program, we have to make sure there are no issues around conflicts of interest so that all has to be factored in. Having said that, what I would say is the enforcement of the law has always been the principle priority of the Competition Bureau and so what you’re reading in the headlines is the routine activities of the bureau. I certainly expect to be involved in the enforcement activities, writ large, that go on during the two years I am here,” he said.

As a Blakes Partner, Hofley is consistently ranked as a leading competition lawyer and litigator in Canada. He has worked on many high-profile competition law matters, substantially influencing competition laws and policies.

In 2005-06, he served as special counsel to the Commissioner of Competition. 

“This is an outstanding achievement for Randall and a great opportunity for all involved,” said Brock Gibson, chairman of Blakes in a statement last week.

"Business regulation is increasingly important in Canada and around the world. Randall's appointment will allow him to benefit from the Bureau's expertise in this regard, while bringing his years of experience and judgment to the post."

“We are pleased to support the Government of Canada's Interchange Program," said Brian Facey, chairman of the Blakes Competition, Antitrust & Foreign Investment Group. “Randall's appointment will also help further the development of competition law and enforcement in Canada, and the experience and insights he will gain serving in this role will greatly benefit the firm and our clients upon his return.”