Canadian Supremes Nix DRAM Makers’ Appeal
The Supreme Court of Canada has denied defendants leave to appeal from the British Columbia Court of Appeal’s certification decision in Pro-Sys Consultants Ltd. v Infineon Technologies AG – the DRAM price-fixing class action.
The B.C. Court of Appeal’s earlier decision certifying a class of direct and indirect purchasers of DRAMs (semiconductor memory chips also known as “dynamic random access memory”) remains therefore the definitive pronouncement on the law on class certifications in competition cases in Canada. As previously discussed, the B.C. Court of Appeal’s decision lowered somewhat the threshold for class certification –allowing plaintiffs at the certification stage to show a “credible and plausible methodology” for addressing damages on a class-wide basis and finding that the certification judge had erred when he subjected plaintiff’s expert to “rigorous scrutiny.”
The B.C. Court of Appeal had found that it could be possible for plaintiffs to prove that the manufacturers benefitted from their wrongful conduct, and thus prove liability on a class-wide basis as a common issue. The Court of Appeal had noted that guilty pleas to the conspiracy charges in the United States and manufacturers’ agreements to pay fines calculated as a function of the gross pecuniary gain they derived from the crime amounted to “admissions that they engaged in the wrongful conduct alleged by the appellant and that they obtained an unlawful benefit from that conduct.”
Time will tell whether the decision will result in more competition class action proceedings in Canada – a country where there have been very few contested competition class action certification hearings to date.