By getting out ahead of its competitors and grabbing immunity first, Loblaw Companies Ltd. has managed to outwit and outplay its grocery rivals in an alleged bread price-fixing scheme, say competition lawyers watching the drama play out.
“The bureau’s program is fairly cut and dry. If you’re the first person to make that call you get immunity; that’s the way that works. It’s all about the race to be the first person to call the Competition Bureau,” says Michael Osborne, a competition law lawyer with Affleck Green McMurtry LLP in Toronto.
“You don’t go to jail, you don’t pay a fine, you don’t get convicted or plead guilty to a criminal offense — it’s like it didn’t happen from a criminal standpoint. From the civil standpoint, however, the plaintiffs are still going to go after you and exact their pound of flesh.”