• Councils seek damages after buying LCD products before 2006
  • Samsung denies claim it implemented the cartel in the U.K.

British local governments and police forces are suing Samsung Electronics Co. after they bought display products during a period when European authorities found prices had been fixed.

The 39 authorities, mostly councils and police agencies spanning the U.K., purchased LCD products between October 2001 and February 2006, a time when Samsung participated and “implemented the cartel in the U.K.” according to court documents filed last year and released by the court this week. That claim is “baseless,” the South Korean company said in its response.

The government bodies are relying on the European Commission’s 2010 judgment, which led to fines of 649 million euros ($738 million) against Asian companies for price-fixing. Samsung wasn’t fined because it informed on the cartel and provided “valuable information,” former commissioner Joaquin Almunia said at the time.

The councils “purchased LCD products from brands and third-party retailers, a significant number of which contained LCD panels manufactured by Samsung and other cartelists,” lawyers for the authorities said in the lawsuit. The prices “paid for such LCD products contained overcharges which would not have been charged but for the cartel.”

The plaintiffs include the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, home to some of the country’s wealthiest residents, and local governments like the Melton Borough Council. A lawyer representing the group wasn’t immediately able to comment on the amount of damages being sought.

LCD panels are the main component of thin, flat monitors used in televisions, computer screens and notebooks. Samsung Electronics’ panel-making subsidiary, Samsung Display Co., said it was unaware of the lawsuit and didn’t have immediate comment.

The case is Leeds City Council v. Samsung Electronics, Case No.  HC-2015-002852, High Court of Justice, Chancery Division.

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