Bakers, White & Case claim victory in price-fixing cases

Baker & McKenzie and White & Case have secured victory for Japanese technology giants Mitsubishi Electric and Toshiba in a series of price-fixing cases before the EU General Court.

In judgments handed down earlier this week, the court overturned fines of €118.6m and €90.9m respectively against the two companies. The fines had been imposed by the European Commission for infringement of European directives and price fixing.

The companies, along with Fuji Electric and Hitachi, were fined in 2007 after the commission found they were part of a European and Japanese cartel participating in price fixing over the sale of electrical components.

This week’s judgments found that a cartel had been operating, but ruled that in the cases of Mitsubishi and Toshiba the fines had been incorrectly calculated.

Baker & McKenzie competition partners Ross Denton and Kurt Haegeman appeared for Mitsubishi, while White & Case partners Jacquelyn MacLennan and Axel Schulz acted for Toshiba.

But the court upheld the commission’s case against Hitachi. In a victory for Monckton Chambers junior Josh Holmes, the court rejected Hitachi’s appeal against its €50.4m fine in its entirety and ruled the company had to pay the commission’s costs.

Brick Court Chambers’ Nicholas Green QC and Tony Singla were instructed by Allen & Overy competition partners Michael Reynolds and Philip Mansfield for Hitachi.

Meanwhile, Fuji Electric had its fine reduced from €2.4m to €2.2m. The company was represented by Slaughter and May partner Philippe Chappatte. Holmes was again instructed for the commission.

Fuji, Mitsubishi and Toshiba were all ordered to pay three-quarters of the costs of their cases.

MacLennan said the cases were rare. “This case is one of only a few where the GC has annulled a fine imposed on a company accused of participating in a cartel,” she said. “We welcome the GC’s judgment as it indicates that EU judges are willing to annul a fine where they have fundamental questions on the methodology used.”