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Three class-action cases heard at the Supreme Court of Canada are important because “they will determine whether or not consumers can recover for losses caused by price-fixing several levels ahead of them in the distribution chain,” Toronto competition lawyer Michael Osborne says in the Financial Post. Read Financial Post
The court is hearing two appeals of British Columbia decisions that favoured the defendants, Sun-Rype Products Ltd. v. Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Pro-Sys Consultants Ltd. v. Microsoft Corp., and one from Quebec that favoured the plaintiffs, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., et al. v. Option Consommateurs, the Post reports.
“The issue before the Supreme Court is whether so-called indirect purchasers, which includes consumers, can recover damages for the price increases caused by these price-fixing conspiracies,” says Osborne.
Price fixing is a criminal offence as set out in the Competition Act, Osborne explains, which provides a cause of action for anyone that has suffered loss as a result of the crime. It affects various entities as a product makes its way from the manufacturer to the consumer, which is what makes the legal process so complicated, he adds.
A buyer that purchases a product from a manufacturer is referred to as a direct purchaser, Osborne says, while a consumer that then purchases the product off the shelf is an indirect purchaser.