National Instrument 81-107 Independent Review Committee for Investment Funds
Part 5 Conflict of interest matters
Section 5.1

Manager to refer conflict of interest matters to independent review committee

(1) Subject to section 5.4, when a conflict of interest matter arises, and before taking any action in the matter, the manager must

(a) determine what action it proposes to take in respect of the matter, having regard to

(i) its duties under securities legislation; and

(ii) its written policies and procedures on the matter; and

(b) refer the matter, along with its proposed action, to the independent review committee for its review and decision.

(2) If a manager must hold a meeting of securityholders to obtain securityholder approval before taking an action in a conflict of interest matter, the manager must include a summary of the independent review committee’s decision under subsection (1) in the notice of the meeting.

Commentary

1. Section 5.1 recognizes that a manager may not be able to objectively determine whether it is acting in the best interests of the investment fund when it has a conflict of interest. This section requires managers to refer all conflict of interest matters — not just those subject to prohibitions or restrictions under securities legislation – to the IRC so that an independent perspective can be brought to bear on the manager’s proposed action.

A decision tree for different types of conflict of interest matters is set out in Appendix A to the Commentary.

While the CSA expect the IRC to bring a high degree of rigour and skeptical objectivity to its review of conflict of interest matters, the CSA do not consider it the role of the IRC to second-guess the investment or business decisions of a manager or an entity related to the manager.

2. Section 5.1 sets out how the manager must proceed when faced with a conflict of interest matter.

Referring proposed actions involving conflict of interest matters to the IRC for its review is not considered by the CSA to detract from the manager’s obligations to the investment fund under securities legislation to make decisions in the best interests of the fund. Subparagraph (a)(i) is intended to reinforce this obligation.

3. In referring a matter to the IRC, a manager is expected to inform the IRC whether its proposed action follows its written policies and procedures on the matter under section 2.2.

If an unanticipated conflict of interest matter arises for which the manager does not have an existing written policy and procedure, the CSA expect the manager to bring the matter and its proposed action to the IRC for its review and input at the time the matter is referred to the IRC.

4. There may be matters that are subject to a securityholder vote that also involve a “conflict of interest matter” under this Instrument. For example, increases in the charges of the manager to the mutual fund will be a conflict of interest matter as well as a matter subject to a securityholder vote under Part 5 of NI 81-102. For these matters, subsection (2) requires a manager to refer the matter first to the IRC before seeking the approval of securityholders, and to include a summary of the IRC’s decision in the written notice to securityholders.