European Court finds that Asian companies have been unfairly treated

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There has been a perception that Asian companies have received unfair treatment at the hands of the European Commission over the years. Three recent appeal cases brought by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. ("Mitsubishi"), Toshiba Corp. ("Toshiba") and Fuji Electric Co., Ltd. ("Fuji") appear to confirm this as fact. However, the wrong caused by the European Commission's unequal or unfair treatment of Mitsubishi, Toshiba and Fuji was fully rectified on appeal when the European General Court (the "Court") completely removed (and in Fuji's case reduced) the unfairly inflated fines that the European Commission had imposed on the three companies.

In 2007 the European Commission (the "Commission") imposed fines of €750.71 million on twenty European and Japanese companies for their participation in a cartel on the market for gas insulated switchgear.

Nine companies brought appeals against the Commission's decision. On 12 July 2011, the Court handed down judgments in appeals brought by the Japanese companies, Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Fuji and Hitachi Ltd. In the appeal cases brought by Mitsubishi and Toshiba respectively, the Court found that, by using a different basis for calculating the level of fine to that used in respect of the European producers, the European Commission had breached the principle of equal treatment.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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