A consent agreement was filed with the Competition Tribunal on June 28, 2011 whereby Bell Canada, Bell Mobility and Bell ExpressVu (collectively, “Bell”) must pay an administrative monetary penalty (“AMP”) of $10 MILLION DOLLARS, modify all non-compliant advertisements within 60 days and pay the $100,000 dollars in costs and disbursements incurred by the Competition Bureau (the “Bureau”) during the course of its investigation.
At issue? Bell’s advertising, going as far back as December 2007 until at least June 2011, promoting prices for services to the public that the Bureau concluded were false or misleading in a material respect, contrary to the civil provisions (Section 74.01(1)(a)) of the Competition Act (the “Act”).
This consent agreement is notable because it is the first time we’ve seen an AMP of $10M imposed for misleading advertising. Back in 2009, a new maximum AMP was set (upped from $100,000 to $10M) for a first order under the civil misleading advertising provisions of the Act. While consent agreements have previously imposed AMPs above the statutory maximum (particularly, in ‘ordinary selling price’ cases), here we see the first time this new $10M threshold has been reached in this context.
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