Canadian regulators kept busy in 2020. Within the Competition Bureau, under the helm of new director Matthew Boswell, numerous new initiatives and guidelines were introduced to ramp up the nation’s competition oversight. In parallel, data privacy authorities shared new provisions for cross-border transfers impacting personal and sensitive data and legislators introduced a sweeping new privacy bill to refresh the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA).
These developments are spurring a flurry of concerns and new considerations for Canadian corporations that are pursuing M&A activity and/or working across borders with partners and providers based in other countries.
The most notable activity on the competition side is the issuance of new guidelines that make clear the Competition Bureau’s intentions to impose greater scrutiny over what types of activities are considered anti-competitive. As part of new standards issued in late 2020, the Competition Bureau has removed earlier assurances that collaborations to develop new products will not be challenged and indicated greater rigor when evaluating cooperative efforts and joint ventures for research and development or other combinations of business resources. It’s likely these developments will lead to an uptick in the volume, cost and complexity of merger clearance investigations for Canadian companies and multinationals doing business there.
On the privacy side, Canadian corporations are going to feel increasing pressure to keep data in Canada. In addition to a new set of standards for protecting sensitive and personal data under PIPEDA, the Canadian government introduced the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (CPPA) in November. If passed, the law will have a significant effect, particularly in the complexity of managing and fulfilling obligations in cross-border e-discovery and investigations.
In response to these emerging demands, FTI Technology is ramping up our offerings in the region. On February 3, we announced an expansion of our partnership with Relativity to provide its cloud-based e-discovery solution RelativityOne in Canada. By offering RelativityOne in Canada we can now provide clients with the full scope of our technology driven e-discovery expertise in country. This means clients will have access to FTI’s expert workflows, scalable review capabilities, advanced analytics and a flexible and secure platform to reduce e-discovery cost and complexity—without being forced to transfer data across borders.
Conducting merger clearance investigations and fulfilling the requirements of supplementary information requests (SIRs) in Canada and Second Requests in the U.S. is already a complex and difficult undertaking. While the most recent regulatory developments in Canada and worldwide are adding more pressure to these types of matters, our teams are working diligently to meet the new demands and support clients with the infrastructure, technology and workflows they need to ensure their matters are brought to a successful and timely completion.