Human rights in China: end of lawsuit against Samsung for “deceptive marketing practices”

The French subsidiary of the South Korean electronics giant was indicted in 2019 for “misleading commercial practices” (AFP / Archives / Josep LAGO)

The indictment for “misleading commercial practices” of the French subsidiary of Samsung is definitively canceled, the Court of Cassation having rejected the appeal of the NGOs which accused the company of violating human rights in factories, in particular in China, according to a decision consulted Wednesday by AFP.

“The Court of Cassation finds that there is no means of such a nature as to allow the admission of the appeal”, can we read in the judgment rendered on Tuesday by the highest court of the French judicial order.

The French subsidiary of the South Korean electronics giant was indicted in 2019 for “misleading commercial practices”.

The investigating judge had been seized of the investigations on the basis of a complaint with civil action by the NGOs Sherpa and Actionaid-Peuples solidaires, filed after the dismissal of several procedures they had initiated.

Samsung then indicated that it contested the “merits” of the complaint and assured that it was its “responsibility to ensure that Samsung Electronics, its suppliers and subcontractors follow best practices relating to working conditions and protection of the environment and compliance with local regulations”.

In 2021, the complaint was finally deemed inadmissible on appeal on the grounds that the NGOs did not have the authorization to take legal action against “misleading commercial practices”.

This decision resulted in the nullity of the procedure and therefore the cancellation of the indictment of Samsung France, now final.

“This case law seriously harms access to justice,” said Sherpa and Actionaid in a press release published on Wednesday.

According to the NGOs, “this decision only reinforces the possibility for multinationals to take advantage, without too much concern, of CSR marketing campaigns concerning ethical commitments that they do not respect in practice”.

In their complaint, the NGOs accused the electronics group of not respecting its ethical commitments, however proclaimed on its website.

Based on various reports from NGOs which were able to visit the group’s factories in China, South Korea and Vietnam, Sherpa and Actionaid denounced in particular the “employment of children under the age of sixteen”, “working and accommodation conditions incompatible with human dignity” and “endangering workers”.

Samsung did not immediately respond to AFP’s requests.

In 2021, the consumer association UFC-Que Choisir also filed a complaint in Paris with a civil action for misleading commercial practices targeting the group.

© 2022 AFP

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