China antitrust case: US Supreme Court rules against Chinese vitamin C makers

Team SoOLEGAL 15 Jun 2018 12:00pm

China antitrust case: US Supreme Court rules against Chinese vitamin C makers

A lower court ruling, that had allowed a group of Chinese vitamin C manufacturers to escape $148 million in damages for violating American antitrust law, was overturned by the US Supreme Court on Thursday.

The SC ruled out against a group of Chinese vitamin C manufacturers, accused of violating US antitrust laws.

The court’s ruling left – Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co and other Chinese companies – vulnerable to a fine of $ 153.3 million in favour of the plaintiffs.

The SC ruling came amid the brewing trade conflict between the US government and China, with both sides geared up to making final decision on tariffs that could affect trade in billions of dollars of goods.

In a 9-0 ruling, the court said that the lower court gave too much deference to Chinese government filings explaining China's regulatory policy.

Case background:

The China antitrust case dates back to 2005, when US-based plaintiffs have sued the Chinese vitamin producers and their affiliates alleging that they had conspired to fix prices and create a shortage of supply of vitamin C in the international market.

Instead of denying the allegations, the Chinese corporate defendants moved the District Court seeking to dismiss the allegations. The defendants argued that the Chinese laws had forced them to adhere to government-mandated pricing regimes. But, the credibility of the Chinese submissions in the case was questioned by a US district judge. And after a 2013 jury trial, the plaintiffs were awarded $147.8 million in damages.

However, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the District Court judgment in 2016, saying that “when a foreign government directly participates in a case, American courts are obligated to defer to that country's characterisation of its own laws”.

Tagged: US Supreme Court   Chinese Vitamin C Producers   Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co   American Antitrust Law   US Government   US District Court  
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