2-year Trial on Misleading Advertising Ends

A major Competition Act prosecution finally ended on January 28, 2000 after 42 days of trial over 2 years. Woolworth Canada Inc. (now Venator Canada) and its toy buyer were acquitted of 16 counts of misleading advertising and bait-and-switch selling. The charges arose out of a Christmas toy promotion in 1993, when Woolworth’s Woolco stores ran out of 4 advertised electronic toys. The litigation focused on the unique, fad-driven nature of the toy-market in Canada, and the difficulty in predicting consumer demand. Judge Paul Reinhardt’s decision found both defendants not guilty on all charges, holding that the defendants’ raincheck practice constituted due diligence. Lead counsel for Woolworth Canada was Christopher J. Pibus, assisted by Peter W. Choe, both of Gowling, Strathy & Henderson’s Toronto office. Kenneth E. Jull of Beard Winter (Toronto) acted for the individual accused. Randy Witten provided instructions as in-house counsel at Woolworth Canada. Vern E. Brewer, now of the Ministry of Justice, Calgary, acted for the Competition Bureau.