Canadian court rules against class action misprice case

Thought this was interesting for what we're seeing over here in the UK.…tml

The Supreme Court of Canada has dismissed a call for a class-action lawsuit against Dell Computer Corp., a decision that could have implications for online shoppers.
In a 6-3 ruling released Friday, the court referred the case in question to arbitration, saying arbitrators have the same resources and expertise as the courts.
A Quebec man and a consumer group had wanted to sue the computer-maker after incorrect prices were mistakenly posted on the company's website. A clause, accessible through a link on the bottom of the web page, said consumer disputes would be resolved through arbitration.

The case was prompted when Dell Inc. in 2003 posted incorrect low prices for Axim hand-held computers on its website. Instead of correct prices of $379 and $549 for the computers, prices were listed at $89 and $118.
Dell learned of the mistake and immediately erected an electronic barrier to block the page, but some consumers were able to circumvent the barrier, found the incorrect listings and placed orders.
Dell normally received between one and three weekend orders for Axim computers, but orders for 509 computers were placed that weekend.
The company issued a correction notice and offered the customers a discount, but refused to honour the incorrect price listings.
Olivier Dumoulin of Saint-Laurent, Que., in response began the class-action lawsuit, insisting that Dell honour terms and conditions of sale.

So basically what happened is that the court said consumers should go through the arbitration process with the company and not burden the court with the issues - which is absolutely crazy (I think) because obviously the company would have no interest in fair arbitration in these circumstances.

The good news out of it though is: "Ontario and Quebec have since passed laws saying companies cannot implement mandatory arbitration clauses." So that opens up the possibility of trying this again now as the courts would hear the case.

Somewhat different legal system over here (although Cdn law is heavily based on English law) but these kind of cases will have important implications for the UK also I think.

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