Supreme Court says case against optical-drive makers over price-fixing can go on

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada has given the green light to a pair of British Columbia class-action suits alleging a global price-fixing conspiracy by electronics firms.

The suits, filed by Whistler, B.C., businessman Neil Godfrey, allege the companies overcharged buyers of optical disc drives and products containing them, such as computers and video-game consoles.

The cases, involving more than 40 defendants, including powerhouses such as Sony, Toshiba, Samsung, Philips, Panasonic and Pioneer, were certified as class actions, decisions upheld on appeal.

Godfrey is seeking compensation for all B.C. residents who purchased the products between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 1, 2010.

The proposed class also includes so-called umbrella purchasers -- people who bought products that were not made or supplied by the companies in question -- based on the theory that the conspiracy led other manufacturers to set higher prices as well.

Godfrey launched the main action in September 2010, but a separate one against Pioneer did not come until August 2013, leading the company to argue it began after the expiry of a two-year limitation period.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 20, 2019.