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Deservedly top tier’, FASKEN’s communications group is an ‘undisputed leader in the regulatory telecoms space’ and has broad expertise relating to telecoms and broadcasting law. The ‘absolutely terrific’ practice also shines in corporate and commercial matters and draws on the firm's wider resources to provide supplementary strength in competition, finance, tax and IP, among other areas. Laurence Dunbar, based in Ottawa, is a globally renowned telecoms expert and recently advised the Jamaican telecoms regulator (the Office of Utility Regulation) on two major regulatory projects. He also advised Rogers Communications Canada on a CRTC public proceeding concerning the implementation of a new broadband internet subsidy scheme. Ottawa-based counsel Stephen Whitehead has ‘very deep knowledge of the telecoms industry’ and provides ongoing advice to Distributel on its corporate and M&A matters. Scott Prescott is also a key name in Ottawa and advised Rogers on its applications to renew its cable broadcasting licences in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Ottawa-based TMT co-head Gerald Kerr-Wilson and Montreal-based litigator Christian Leblanc are also recommended.

McCarthy Tétrault’s ‘established history in the telecoms area’ combines with its ‘enormous depth of experience and bench strength’ to mark the group as a ‘top-notch communications outfit’. A firm fixture in both regulatory and transactional engagements, the group acts for a diverse spread of domestic and foreign corporations, governments and regulators. Among its recent highlights, Toronto-based group head Grant Buchanan and corporate finance partner Robert Hansen advised Fusion Telecommunications International on its $739m acquisition of the cloud and business services unit of Birch Communications. In a high-profile set of contentious cases, the firm represented the National Football League, NFL International and NFL Productions in their appeal of a CRTC decision banning the practice of substituting US television commercials with Canadian commercials — Buchanan and Toronto-based senior counsel Peter Grant are advising on the communications law-related aspects of that work. IT specialist Charles Morgan is a name to note in Montreal. Hank Intven retired in 2018.

The ‘consistently responsive and practical’ group at Dentons distinguishes itself through its ‘deep knowledge of regulatory telecoms matters’ coupled with its ‘outstanding business sense’. Among its recent work, counsel Margot Patterson (who ‘provides practical, commercial guidance based on extensive regulatory and government-relations experience’) advised CorrCan Media Group on an application to the CRTC. Other names to note are senior telecoms counsel Gregory Kane QC, highlighted for his ‘very quick and effective solutions to regulatory issues’, and national section lead Monica Song. Kirsten Embree retired in 2018. All named lawyers are based in Ottawa.

Goodmans is highlight as an ‘extremely strong choice for telecoms work’ and handles both regulatory and transactional matters. Group co-lead Michael Koch, lauded as an ‘excellent and experienced communications specialist’, focuses on regulation and public law litigation; he advised Major League Baseball Collective of Canada in Copyright Board proceedings concerning tariffs for the retransmission of copyrighted works. Monique McAlister, who co-heads the group, recently represented five different parties in the CRTC’s landmark TV Policy Review. Other representative clients include Accessible Media, Bell Media and Turner Broadcasting System.

Stikeman Elliott LLP’s telecoms practice stands out for its broad multi-disciplinary coverage, which spans regulation, IP, M&A, competition, administrative law and litigation. Driven out of Ottawa by senior regulatory counsel David Elder, the group also benefits from the transactional experience of Montreal-based corporate finance counsel Sidney Horn. Highlights included advising Cogeco Communications on its $1.4bn equity investment from Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to finance the acquisition by its subsidiary, Atlantic Broadband, of the MetroCast cable network.

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP’s communications practice, led by Montreal-based IT specialist Sunny Handa, is routinely involved in corporate transactions and regulatory matters. Clients include Trilogy International Partners, for which it handles all corporate and securities work, and Inmarsat Solutions, for which it handles regulatory compliance issues.

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