On October 31, 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada released three
important judgments dealing with whether consumers can sue
manufacturers who are involved in conspiracies that increase the
prices of products that consumers purchase. The Supreme Court of
Canada ruled that consumers can sue manufacturers who are alleged
to have fixed the prices of goods that are inputs into final
Each of the three cases, Pro-Sys Consultants v. Microsoft,
Sun-Rype Products v. Archer Daniel Midlands Company and
Infineon Technologies v. Option Consommateurs, are class
actions in which the defendants are alleged to have been involved
in improper conspiracies to increase prices of products that they
manufacture which are inputs into a final product. Therefore,
they are not bought directly by consumers, but are part of the
product the consumer buys.
For example, in the Infineon case, the alleged
conspiracy involves the production of computer memory chips.
This is an input into the final product, namely a computer.
In the Sun Rype case, the product is high fructose corn
syrup, a sweetener used in soft drinks. The manufactures who
make computers or soft drinks may be able to pass some or all of
the increased costs they have to pay due to the conspiracy to
consumers. Therefore, in these cases it is the consumer, the
"indirect purchaser", who may suffer all or most of the
harm caused by the conspiracy. Before these judgments, it was
unclear whether indirect purchasers could sue in this
In my view, it is important to allow consumers to sue in these
cases, as they may be the only group who suffers and has incentive
to sue. This ruling has important implications for competition law
and class actions in Canada. Nonetheless, these are difficult class
actions for plaintiffs to bring, requiring complex economic
evidence to prove any harm was caused, assuming the plaintiffs can
first establish that there was a conspiracy. So far, none of
these class actions has been resolved by trial, and the Supreme
Court of Canada judgments deal with whether the class actions can
be certified. Now that we know these class actions can
proceed, it will be interesting to see if they can succeed after a
It's not often that our little blog intersects with such titanic struggles as the U.S. presidential race – and by using the term "titanic" I certainly don't mean to suggest that anything disastrous is in the future.
J.J. v. C.C., is an interesting case in which the court held that an automotive garage owes a duty to minor children to secure the vehicles on the premises by locking the cars and safely storing the car keys...
In Irwin v. Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, 2015 ABCA 396, the Alberta Court of Appeal found that the "ABVMA" failed to afford procedural fairness to a veterinarian undergoing an incapacity assessment.
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