Global law firm White & Case achieved success for Toshiba today before the European Union's General Court in a high profile challenge against the European Commission's cartel decision concerning Color Picture Tubes for television sets (CPTs). The General Court found that the Commission failed to prove Toshiba's participation in the CPT cartel and annulled the €28,048,000 fine imposed on Toshiba.
"I am delighted to have achieved this result for Toshiba," said White & Case partner Jacquelyn MacLennan, who led the team. "It indicates that the General Court is, on occasion, prepared to look closely at the facts and counter arguments, and does not always rubber-stamp the Commission's findings. This judgment is particularly important for Toshiba in its defence against unmerited private claims in the EU."
On December 5, 2012, the Commission took a decision fining Toshiba €28,048,000 for its direct participation in the CPT cartel for the period 2000-2003. The decision also found Toshiba joint and severally liable for the €86,738,000 fine imposed on MTPD, a joint venture with Panasonic in which Toshiba held a minority shareholding. MTPD was alleged to have participated in the CPT cartel for the period 2003-2006.
In today's judgment, the Court agreed with Toshiba that the decision failed to establish that Toshiba was aware of the existence of, and intended to participate in, the global CPT cartel. As a result, the Court annulled in full the Commission's finding of liability as well as the fine imposed on Toshiba for its direct participation in the CPT cartel.
While the General Court upheld the Commission's findings that MTPD participated in the CPT Cartel, it emphasized that Toshiba's joint liability for MTPD’s conduct was only vicarious. The judgment is another noteworthy extension of the application of parental liability to minority shareholders, a peculiarity of EU law. Nevertheless, the Court reduced the fine imposed on MTPD by almost €4 million on the basis that the Commission should have applied a different methodology to calculate MTPD's fine.
"Today's result underscores the depth and strength of our competition litigation practice," said the Head of White & Case’s Global Antitrust practice, Mark Gidley. "White & Case is one of the few law firms with the ability to offer our clients truly seamless international counsel in complex multijurisdictional investigations."
The White & Case Brussels team consisted of partners Jacquelyn MacLennan, Axel Schulz and local partner Jérémie Jourdan, with associates Pascal Berghe and Giuditta Caldini. The team worked closely with White & Case partner Christopher Curran (Washington, DC), leading the case for Toshiba in the US, and counsels Dana Foster (Washington, DC) and Aya Kobori (New York).
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