S&C Helps Royal Bank of Canada Secure Favorable Ruling by Second Circuit in SSA Bond Antitrust Litigation

July 26, 2021

On July 19, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit summarily affirmed the dismissal with prejudice of antitrust claims brought by a putative class of investors against some of the world's biggest financial institutions, including S&C clients Royal Bank of Canada, RBC Capital Markets and RBC Europe Limited. The plaintiffs had accused the financial institutions of rigging a roughly $9 trillion government and agency bond market for seven years.
 
The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants conspired not to compete against each other in the market for U.S. dollar-denominated supranational, sovereign and agency bonds (SSA bonds) and effectively functioned as a single unified “super” trading desk from 2009 to 2015.
 
S&C took a leading role in securing dismissal in the lower court and in representing the RBC entities in the appeal. In September 2019, Judge Edgardo Ramos of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the foreign defendants for lack of personal jurisdiction and for failure to plausibly allege antitrust injury. In March 2020, the judge dismissed plaintiffs' claims against the domestic defendants for failure to plausibly allege an antitrust conspiracy and for failure to plausibly allege antitrust injury.
 
The Second Circuit affirmed Judge Ramos' decision, finding that the “the broad conspiracy alleged by plaintiffs is simply not plausible.” The plaintiffs failed to explain how the conspirators were able to wield such control over the relevant market and failed to link each defendant individually to specific acts of anticompetitive conduct in furtherance of the conspiracy, the court found.
 
The S&C team representing the RBC entities included Alex Willscher, Matthew Porpora, Jonathan Carter and Stephen Clarke.