Decision Challenges Nature Of Competition Tribunal's Screening Function Of Private Applications

The Competition Tribunal (the "Tribunal") has

denied the application of Canadian Standard Travel Agent

Registry ("CSTAR") under section 103.1 of the

Competition Act (the "Act") for leave to bring an

application against the International Air Transportation

Association ("IATA") for refusal to deal under

section 75 of the Act.1 This case has important

implications for the Tribunal's gate keeping function for

private applications to the Tribunal.

Section 103.1 of the Act requires the Tribunal to screen

private applicants seeking to make an application under section

75 or 77 of the Act in a summary and expeditious manner. The

CSTAR case affects the nature of this screening process because

the Tribunal:

asserted jurisdiction, for the first time, to grant

interim injunctive relief under section 104 of the Act upon

the filing of the application for leave under section 103.1

and before actually granting leave;

unilaterally extended a statutory deadline set out in

section 103.1 of the Act; and

left open the possibility of representative, class

action-style proceedings in private applications to the

Tribunal under sections 75 and 77 of Act.

Background - Bringing Air Travel Into The 21st


IATA is the trade association of the international airline

industry. It exists to promote safe, regular and economical air

transport for the people of the world by providing the core

infrastructure for the agreements and programs that keep global

air travel working.

In June 2004, under direction from its members, IATA decided

to convert all airline tickets from paper to electronic

tickets, on a global basis. This was welcomed by the industry

as a very positive stepóe-tickets do not get lost, they

reduce waste, and the processing cost associated with them is a

fraction of paper tickets. Current estimates show that moving

to e-tickets globally will save the industry about US$3 billion

per year. The implementation date for this massive undertaking

was set for June 1, 2008. Throughout the 4-year transition

period IATA worked with the industry to facilitate an efficient

transition to e-tickets.

CSTAR is a non-profit organization that represents many

Canadian travel agencies. It is not a travel agency itself and

it does not issue or otherwise deal in airline tickets at all.

Although IATA had widely published the transition to e-tickets,

CSTAR waited until the eleventh-hour to bring its section 103.1

application to the Competition Tribunal.

CSTAR's application alleged that IATA's global

transition to e-tickets constituted a refusal to deal with

various Canadian travel agents who would continue to use...

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