Rob Russell is the National Chair of the BLG Competition and Foreign Investment Review Group. He has led some of the most significant cartel cases, abuse of dominance proceedings and contested merger cases in Canada both for private sector companies and for the Competition Bureau.
Rob has over 30 years' experience in Competition law. Throughout his career, Rob has been involved in a large number of complex and contested merger reviews in a wide variety of industries. In 1989, Rob completed the first ever complex merger review in Canada after the introduction of merger control into Canada's Competition Act (Amoco/Dome Petroleum). In 1997, he acted on behalf of the Competition Bureau in leading one of the first significant contested mergers before the Competition Tribunal, which established a number of legal precedents in the area that remain in force today (Director v. Canadian Pacific). In 2007, he acted on behalf of Superior Propane in a merger review in which the Competition Bureau for the first time accepted the application of the efficiency defence to recognize offsetting efficiencies, in an acquisition which resulted in a combined market share of over 80% (the acquisition of the propane distribution assets of Irving).
Rob is also not a newcomer to the criminal law aspects of Competition law. Rob obtained a Masters with distinction from King's College, University of London, for his thesis on comparative cartel practice. He leads the most active and significant cartel practice in Canada which has been cited as leading more cartel cases than all of the other firms in Canada combined. He has been involved in over 30 criminal cartel cases in the last decade, including some of the largest cartel cases in Canada (e.g., Air Cargo, Air Passenger, Freight Forwarders, Foam, Auto Parts, RAM, CRT, LCD, Concrete Forming, Gasoline, Ocean Shipping, Paper and Engineering Services), as well as numerous cartel investigations in non-public matters. Rob has conducted numerous investigations with a team that he developed of in-house forensic investigators which is unique among Canadian competition practices, and he has led the criminal defence for a number of significant corporate clients. In respect of the civil matters aspects of his practice, Rob has led a number of abuse of dominance matters, including acting for Reliance in the recent Tribunal proceedings in Water Heaters, and acting for Loblaw in the ongoing investigation by the Bureau into its procurement practices and policies.
Clients for whom Rob has acted in competition matters include: Loblaw Companies (6 significant mergers or acquisitions including leading the $12 B acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart in 2014), George Weston (5 significant mergers or divestitures), Hewlett Packard (a number of acquisitions and mergers including the $25 B acquisition of Compaq), Marsh & McLennan, Canadian Airlines, British Airways, Deutshe Bahn, Schenker, Air Products, New Balance, Toys R Us, Roxul, Husky, Institut Mérieux, Monsanto, Scotts Company, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Oneworld, Reliance, Scotia McLeod, Spar Aerospace, Hexion, Purdue Pharma, Schering-Plough, Merck, Vitafoam, Apollo Global Management, Superior Propane, Sumitomo Electric and Waste Management.
In 2001, Rob was retained by the Commissioner of Competition to provide a report and legislative framework for amending the cartel provisions of the Competition Act, which ultimately were reflected in the amendments to the Act in 2009. In 2002, Rob was appointed as one of the two Canadian non-governmental advisers to the International Competition Network for its inaugural conference held in Naples, Italy. Rob has also testified on numerous occasions before Parliamentary and Senate Committees on issues of competition law and policy.
Rob is active in the CBA, the ABA and is an officer of the IBA. He is known as one of the low key, but determined and distinguished, competition law practitioners in Canada.