When companies that meet certain thresholds merge in Canada, the parties are required to get permission from the Competition Bureau to go through with the merger plan. Often, these requests for permission are met with supplementary information requests ('SIRs') from the Bureau. SIRs are requests for data, e-mails and other information that will allow the Bureau to evaluate the effect and veracity of the merger firsthand. The requests, as articulated in SIRs, are generally intentionally broad which means that the response will often involve a large number of documents. This prompted the Bureau to release an updated set of instructions in order to handle these large volumes of documents and leverage the efficiencies provided by software.
The updated instructions feature precise guidance on the following acceptable methods for submission:
Using standard computer systems – These instructions pertain to common programs such as the Microsoft Office suite, and similar software. Essentially, responders are expected to use standard formatting and file types to ensure that the Bureau can effectively parse the submissions.
- Using specialized software – This part contains the newest additions to the instructions. Over the past few years, several new types of litigation software have come to market. These options enable users to manage large amounts of data more efficiently and export them to third parties in a highly organized way. Prior to this update, responses to SIRs could not use this software. Now, software options that follow the precise requirements in the update may be utilized which will cut down on the costs involved in responding to SIRs.
SIRs often will contain multiple requests for different types of documents pertaining to the merger. The Competition Bureau in Canada requires that each submitted document must be marked according to the request to which the document is responsive. This is a time-consuming and expensive task that often requires a lawyer to manually review each record and assign a code to the document. With this update, the Bureau has announced that it is willing to accept a list of search terms for each request that, when entered, would produce only responsive documents. While this is a noteworthy step forward toward embracing the power of digitalization, we expect many more updates in the near future.
Contributor – Zia Hassan