Protocol did not prohibit police from calling plaintiff

Ontario civil | Competition Law

GENERAL

Protocol did not prohibit police from calling plaintiff

Plaintiff brought action seeking damages based on breaches of Competition Act, in restraint of trade resulting in damages. Parties were all in towing business. Parties all did towing for police detachment. Police requested towers who operated in county to set up single phone number that police could call in order to dispatch towing services for vehicles involved in accidents being investigated by police. Defendants set up association. They invited plaintiff to become member but plaintiff did not join association. As result, plaintiff was not on association’s list of towers who would be dispatched when police called association for towing services. Plaintiff alleged that s. 45 of Competition Act (Can.), was breached by fixing prices; creating zones and controlling supply. Action dismissed. With respect to price fixing, there was no evidence that rates set out in guidelines set up by defendants had any effect on plaintiff’s business. Rate guidelines were not established to prevent competition, but were established to prevent gouging. Setting rate guidelines that prevented gouging would not prevent plaintiff from competing in same business, by offering same service for lower fee. Creation of zones could not have effect on plaintiff’s business. Creation of zones provided rational method to assist officers who must decide who to call. It kept towing protocol transparent. Creation of zones did not contravene s. 45 of act. Intent of protocol was not to control supply of service but to make provision of available supply efficient, economical, safe and transparent. Protocol established rational set of criteria to enable officer to make informed decision that affected rights and obligations of third parties, free of personal bias and interest. Protocol did not prohibit police from calling plaintiff. There was no breach of act.

Dirstein Towing lnc. v. Streamline Auto Body Ltd. (Aug. 28, 2012, Ont. S.C.J., Belleghem J., File No. 313/10) 221 A.C.W.S. (3d) 837.

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