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UPDATE 1-Canada court lets Microsoft suit proceed but not ADM

Randall Palmer
Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 | 10:39 AM ET

OTTAWA, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Consumers may join a class action lawsuit against Microsoft Corp over alleged unfair pricing, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Thursday.

But the high court refused to allow a class action to proceed against Archer Daniels Midland Co (ADM) and Cargill Inc over alleged price-fixing on high-fructose corn syrup used in soft drinks and baked goods.

The Supreme Court, in its decision on Microsoft, certified a class action against the company, which the plaintiffs accuse of overcharging for certain operating systems and software.

The cases dealt primarily with whether consumers have the right to join a class action even if they were only indirect purchasers, not buying directly from the companies involved. Neither case was at the point of establishing liability.

The companies argued that if both the consumers and the retailers or intermediaries who sold those products were allowed to recover damages, they risked having to pay the same damages twice.

In the Microsoft case, the court said "the risk of duplicate or multiple recoveries can be managed by the courts."

In the ADM decision, the court agreed that while class actions by consumers can proceed in principle, consumers would not be able to identify what sweetener was used in each fruit drink or baked good they consumed over the years. A class action cannot therefore be certified, it ruled.

The cases are Pro-Sys Consultants Ltd et al. v. Microsoft Corp et al. (B.C.) (34282) and Sun-Rype Products Ltd et al. v. Archer Daniels Midland Co et al. (B.C.) (34283).

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