Supreme Court Justice Kim Yong-dam on Judges/Prosecutors and Public Trust

A Joongang Daily editorial on Feb. 27, 2007 entitled Judges, prosecutors seeking to regain public trust summarizes a speech giving by Justice Kim Yong-dam to other judges. The editorial is enlightening to the fact that the legal system is trying to make a concerted effort to change its public image. The nation’s courts have given the impression that they are lenient to the haves but cold-hearted to the have-nots, Kim Yong-dam, a Supreme Court justice, said yesterday. During a lecture to criminal court judges, Mr. Kim urged the judiciary to study past rulings in an attempt to understand the public’s distrust. He also encouraged judges to make rulings based on courtroom testimony rather than relying on the prosecution’s investigative reports, which are submitted beforehand. “Public trust in the court system can only be recovered when judges make rulings based on the testimony given at a public hearing,” Mr. Kim said.

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Legal system hinders class action suits

Korea Herald Feb. 26, 2007 Experts say the burden of proof limits room for shareholders to maneuver Class action suits have mostly been cumbersome, costly and highly risky for shareholders filing complaints in the United States, but their gains clearly deserved such a demanding process. American firms had paid a total of $26 billion to settle collective legal complaints from 1997 to 2005, and each case cost $35 million on average. The record was rewritten as Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc., which collapsed due to huge accounting frauds, were forced to pay over $13 billion to shareholders in 2005 alone. The whopping figures have raised concerns that Korean firms may soon face similar legal challenges as the government allowed shareholders to file class action suits against all companies this year. But many experts point out shareholders will find it hard to wield their new legal power because the local legal

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Four oil companies fined for price rigging

Korea Herald Feb. 23, 2007 The Fair Trade Commission yesterday slapped fines of 52.6 billion won ($54.5 million) on four major oil refineries for illegal price-fixing. The antitrust watchdog said SK Corp., Hyundai Oilbank Corp., GS Caltex Corp. and S-Oil Corp. were found to have conspired to raise prices of petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel and kerosene in 2004. The FTC also decided to file a complaint against the four companies to the prosecution. “The oil cartel, between April 1 and June 10, is estimated to have caused customer damage amounting to 240 billion won, or 15 percent of the companies’ total sales,” the FTC said. The four refiners’ combined sales from April to June were 1.6 trillion won, it said. “The refiners are suspected of fixing prices for longer periods but as of yet, we only have evidence of illegal practices during those two months.” The oil companies

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