Stikeman Elliott

Stikeman Elliott's Communications Group consists of partners and associates drawn from the firm's domestic and international law offices possessing expertise in telecommunications and broadcasting law and complementary legal disciplines, including competition, corporate and commercial, and copyright. The group is able to draw upon the particular strengths of each of its members in responding to clients' needs. This ensures that our clients receive legal services tailored to their specific needs in a timely and cost-effective manner, regardless of the complexity of the issues or the size of the particular transaction. The group has established a blog on legal, legislative and policy developments that can be accessed online at


Prior to joining Stikeman Elliott, members of the Communications Group gained valuable experience working in a variety of capacities, including senior positions at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and in senior executive positions for companies in the regulated communications sector in Canada. They remain on the leading edge of new technology and legal issues through regular appearances before the CRTC, Industry Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal, as well as research and writing, participation in conferences and teaching at universities. All of this enables the members of the group to keep pace with the rapid developments and innovations that are characteristic of the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors in Canada and abroad.

Given government policy that directs the CRTC to rely on market forces to the maximum extent feasible, we consider the Communications Group should include knowledge and experience with respect to the past and current administration of the Telecommunications Act and related regulations as well as the Competition Act. In our view a practice group should also provide a range of expertise and seniority that permits work to be done at the most appropriate level of experience and billing rate.

Our Unique Value and Experience

  • Our team possesses a wide and varied experience with respect to domestic and international telecommunications and broadcasting law activities.

  • Given the communications sector in Canada is still subject to a significant degree of regulation, our Communications Group offers a breadth of experience relating to the principal regulatory forums including the CRTC, the Competition Bureau, the Departments of Industry Canada and Canadian Heritage as well as the Federal and Supreme Courts of Canada in judicial review and appeal activities.

  • Although we have acted principally for private sector clients, we have also been retained by government agencies and organizations in Canada and abroad.

Our Services


Members of the group have acted as counsel and have provided advice of both a general and a more specific nature to a number of telecommunications common carriers (terrestrial, wireless and satellite), resellers, Internet Service Providers and content providers and users. Our experience includes the following:

  • Relative to the CRTC, members of our group have appeared as counsel in regulatory proceedings pursuant to the Telecommunications Act such as rate and service applications, applications for entry, licensing, the provision of competitive domestic and international telecommunications services including resale and sharing applications for forbearance from regulation, Canadian ownership and control, competitive disputes, as well as consideration of CRTC jurisdiction respecting the Internet and Internet Service Providers; and

  • Relative to Industry Canada, we have acted as counsel in the context of major licensing initiatives and transfers of licences pursuant to the Radiocommunication Act including domestic and global satellite services, wireless services including cellular telephone, paging, public cordless telephone service, policy proceedings to define licensing criteria for new services, the Telecommunications Policy Review, foreign ownership issues and proceedings which culminated in the drafting of new legislation and regulations.

Broadcasting, Specialty Services and Broadcasting Distribution

Although Canada is experiencing convergence, broadcasting communications matters are regulated by the CRTC separate from telecommunications under the administration of the Broadcasting Act and the establishment of policy by the Government through the Department of Canadian Heritage. Experience with respect to the broadcasting sector has included the following:

  • Relative to the CRTC, acting on behalf of clients in a wide variety of proceedings including licensing of radio, television and specialty undertakings, cable television, satellite and other wireless broadcasting distribution undertaking activities, authority for the transfer of licences as a result of acquisitions or mergers, foreign ownership issues, licence renewals, competitive disputes and policy proceedings as well as CRTC jurisdiction with respect to conventional and new media services relative to Internet distribution;

  • In the CRTC proceedings described above, we have acted on behalf of applicants for licences to be issued by the CRTC, as well as interested parties in interventions either supporting or opposing applications filed by others; and

  • Relative to major acquisitions and financings of companies in this regulated sector, we have provided comprehensive legal advice to the companies involved and financial institutions.


Leveraging the firm's intellectual property expertise, the group has acted on behalf of a range of clients respecting legislative developments in the area of copyright, applications for approval of tariffs for the collective administration of copyright and court challenges respecting decisions of the Copyright Board of Canada.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Drawing upon the strengths inherent in a team approach, lawyers in the group have provided the regulatory component in major corporate transactions. This has included securing regulatory approvals where required and guidance with respect to limitations on foreign ownership in both the telecommunications and broadcasting sectors.


Stikeman Elliott has provided counsel to private sector clients and to a number of governments and administrations as a result of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Basic Telecommunications. Some of the countries and administrations include: Italy, Belgium, Hungary, Romania, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chile, Solomon Islands and the Bahamas.


Members of our group have advised government departments and private sector clients in the drafting of legislation and legislative amendments with respect to the Telecommunications Act, the Broadcasting Act, the Radiocommunication Act, the Telesat Canada Act, and the Teleglobe Canada Reorganization and Divestiture Act.


There have been significant privatization activities in Canada regarding the telecommunications sector and Stikeman Elliott has acted for the Canadian government as vendor, for a Crown corporation being privatized, and for potential purchasers of companies being privatized. The Communications Group, in association with other relevant practice groups in the firm, has provided wide-ranging advice and legal services to both structure and execute the privatization mandates. This includes advice on securities and financial aspects through to the policy and legislative drafting required to complete the privatization. In addition, with the benefit of experience gained in the Canadian context, the relevant practice groups in Stikeman Elliott have also provided advice on privatization activities in other jurisdictions.

Lawful Access

Members of our group have been key players in the development in Canada of legislation requiring telecommunications carriers to build and maintain capability to provide lawful access to telecommunications and related data by law enforcement and national security agencies, and have advised a variety of clients with respect to compliance with lawful access requirements.

Unsolicited Telecommunications

Canada has long had rules respecting the use of telecommunications technologies for marketing, informational and charitable purposes, including Unsolicited Telecommunications Rules, a National Do Not Call List, and most recently, broad-based anti-spam legislation. Lawyers in the Communications Group have assisted a variety of clients in navigating the complexities of these rules and their enforcement.

Recognition for Our Work

Members of the group have been recognized and cited by a variety of domestic and international directories, such as Chambers Global: Guide to the World's Leading Lawyers for Business and Guide to the World's Leading Telecommunications Lawyers, The International Who's Who of Regulatory Communications Lawyers, The Best of the Best, Lexpert's Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, The Best Lawyers in Canada, and The Telecommunications Law Guide.

Among our group members are:

  • David B. Elder, head of Communication Group, is a former Legal Counsel to the CRTC and Vice President, Regulatory Law with Bell Canada, where his practice and managerial responsibilities dealt with a wide variety of matters relating to the regulation of broadcasting and telecommunications in Canada, as well as developments in the areas of privacy, security, lawful access to private communications, electronic commerce and new media. He also acted as Bell Privacy Ombudsman and Senior Regulatory Counsel to Bell ExpressVu (now BellTV). David is recognized by Chambers Global as being "highly recommended for his substantial knowledge of telecoms, broadcasting, privacy and lawful access issues."

  • Lawson A. W. Hunter, QC is a former Executive Vice-President and Chief Corporate Officer of Bell Canada and BCE Inc., where he was responsible for overseeing regulatory, governmental relations and corporate affairs. He is also a former Commissioner of Competition. Mr. Hunter is recognized as a world leader in competition/antitrust law and telecommunications.

  • Nicholas McHaffie is head of the Litigation Group in Stikeman Elliott's Ottawa office. His practice includes both regulatory and intellectual property aspects of telecommunications and broadcasting. He has represented clients before the Federal Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada on telecommunications and broadcasting matters, including recent experience on the CRTC's reference regarding the status of ISPs under the Broadcasting Act. He has also acted for clients before the Copyright Board and Federal Court of Appeal in tariff proceedings under the Copyright Act.

Related Practices
Key Contacts

Sidney M. Horn

Lawson A.W. Hunter

David B. Elder

John E. Stark

Brian G. Hansen

Related Publications