By Susan Ning, Sun Yiming and Hazel Yin
It was reported 1 that on December 15, 2011, the Intermediate Court of Changsha, Hunan Province dismissed a consumer’s complaint that automobile producer Dongfeng Nissan and its 4S store 2 abused their dominant position in violation of China’s Anti-monopoly Law ("AML") by reaping exorbitant profits and expelling their competitors. The case was originally filed in November 2010 and the court hearing was held in May 4, 2011. It is the first antitrust lawsuit in the automobile industry and yet another defeated attempt by Chinese consumers in bringing AML private actions.
The plaintiff, Mr. Liu Dahua, is a Nissan car owner. In October 2009, He had his car repaired at a local 4S store of Nissan. Finding that the 4S store charged much higher price for repair services than other local auto repair factories, Mr. Liu asked the 4S store to sell the spare parts separately so he could do the repairs elsewhere. However, the 4S store turned down his request saying that Dongfeng Nissan did not allow its 4S stores to sell spare parts alone, meaning that customers could only purchase the spare parts as well as the repair services together from Dongfeng Nissan’s 4S stores.