Robert S. Russell  

Partner

Executive Summary

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.

Representative Work

  • Loblaw Companies in respect of class proceedings by minority Class A shareholders claiming oppression, conspiracy and breach of fiduciary duty for damages exceeding $72 million, 2003.
  • Hewlett-Packard in respect of class proceedings regarding alleged defective printers for damages exceeding $110 million, 2004.
  • A major technology services provider in respect of alleged negligence and breach of contract relating to a major SAP implementation for damages exceeding $20 million, 2004.
  • Weston Limited in respect of a commercial dispute regarding the divestiture of E.B. Eddy for damages exceeding $42 million, 2005.
  • Future Shop in respect of a class action proceeding relating to allegedly defective disk drives, 2001.
  • As senior competition law counsel, acted on both civil and criminal matters under the Canadian Competition Act and appeared before the Canadian Competition Tribunal on numerous occasions, acting on behalf of the Canadian Competition Commissioner as well as private sector clients.
  • Acted for various private sector clients in many significant mergers in Canada, including: the $4-billion acquisition of Dome Petroleum by Amoco to form Canada's largest oil producer; the $2.2-billion acquisition of Provigo by Loblaws to create Canada's largest supermarket chain; and the $40-billion acquisition of Compaq by Hewlett-Packard.
  • Acted as Agent of the Attorney-General of Canada and counsel to the Competition Commissioner in a number of matters including CP Containers/Cast North America, Abitibi-Consolidated/Donohue Inc. and Forzani.
  • Has been retained as a special advisor to the Canadian Commissioner of Competition concerning proposed amendments to the Competition Act.
  • Has frequently been invited to appear before a number of Canadian Parliamentary Committees and the Canadian Senate in respect of competition law reform.
  • Has appeared before the Competition Commission in the United Kingdom in respect of the merger of Air Canada and Canadian Airlines.
  • Advising and representing clients with respect to criminal matters under the Competition Act, such as conspiracy, bid-rigging, misleading advertising and price maintenance.
  • Acted in major technology law transactions for clients including Hewlett-Packard, NEC, Amoco Canada, Loblaw Companies, Westons, Placer Dome, British Airways, Barclays Bank, Marsh McLellan, B.C.E., Ryder, Holt Renfrew, Gainers, Bramalea Limited, Institut Mérieux, Bliss & Laughlin Industries, Carecor Health Services, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Simcoe & Erie Insurance, Gerber Foods, Amdahl Canada, Atochem North America, Scepter Manufacturing and Telecom - Telesat.
  • Advises clients with respect to advertising, packaging and labelling, tariffs and trademarks, as well as representing clients with Consumer and Corporate Affairs, Health Protection Branch and the Liquor Licence Board.

Publications & Presentations

  • Contributing Editor, Corporate Litigation, Federated Press.
  • Frequent speaker on commercial litigation, cross-border litigation, class action proceedings and litigation management, competition policy and law, including for the annual Canadian Bar Association Conference on Competition Law, and events hosted by the ECN, University of Toronto, Canadian High Commission in London, England, and the Canadian Embassy in Paris, France.
  • Presenter, in-house seminars and audits for BLG clients on various topics, including commercial litigation, class action proceedings, technology law, advertising law, trademark law, competition and anti-trust law.

Rankings & Recognitions

  • Selected by peers for inclusion in the 2017 edition (and since 2010) of The Best Lawyers in Canada® (Competition/Antitrust Law).
  • Recognized in the 2017 edition of Global Competition Review's GCR 100.​
  • Recognized in the 2017 edition of Who's Who Legal: Canada (Competition Law).
  • Recognized in the 2016 edition of The Canadian Legal Lexpert® Directory (Competition Law).
  • Recognized in the 2013 edition of Chambers Global – The World’s Leading Lawyers for Business (Competition/Antitrust: Litigators).
  • Martindale-Hubbell® BV® Distinguished™ 4.4 out of 5 Peer Review Rated.
  • Nominated in 2009 and in 2010 as BTI Client Service MVP. This nomination recognizes “outstanding legal skills, extraordinary attention to client needs and noteworthy responsiveness to Fortune 1000 organizations with highly personalized strategic advice and a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.”