Latham Secures Significant Victory for Renesas Before English High Court

Judgment finds that the smart card chips damages claim is time-barred.

January 31, 2022

Latham & Watkins secured a significant victory for Renesas Electronics Corporation, Renesas Electronics Europe Limited and Renesas Electronics Europe GmbH (together Renesas), previous manufacturers and suppliers of smart card chips, before the High Court of England & Wales, in a preliminary issue trial concerning limitation in an action arising out of the Smart Card Chips cartel.

In September 2014, the European Commission (EC) found that between September 2003 and September 2005, certain Renesas entities and other addressees, infringed Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (and certain equivalent treaty provisions covering the European Economic Area) by coordinating prices and quotations for smart card chips. The Commission imposed fines totaling approximately €138 million.  In July 2019, 15 companies in the Gemalto group, which are active in the digital identity and security sector, brought damages claims against a number of the addressees, and two of their subsidiaries.

On 28 January 2022, the High Court found that Gemalto’s claims against the defendants were time-barred and should be dismissed. Mrs Justice Bacon held that by the time of the announcement of the Statement of Objections, taking account the other information available to it, Gemalto had sufficient material before it to be able to form a reasonable belief as to the essential elements of a claim for damages arising from the cartel without waiting for the EC’s decision, and that the limitation period had expired prior to the date on which Gemalto’s claim was brought in the present proceedings. Permission to appeal has been granted to Gemalto. 

The Latham team was led by London partner Oliver Browne and Düsseldorf partner Michael Esser, with London associates Hayley Pizzey, Shreya Ramesh, and Amaryllis Bernitsa. 

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