Court decides that groundbreaking £150m class action on behalf of UK car buyers can proceed

London’s specialist competition court, the Competition Appeal Tribunal, has today  (Friday 18 February) given the green light to a class action on behalf of millions of motorists and businesses, who bought or leased a new car between October 2006 and September 2015, to claim against 5 shipping companies that imported cars into Europe.

The European Commission (EC) has already found that the maritime car carriers fixed prices, rigged bids and allocated the market for roll-on, roll-off (“RoRo”) transport.  According to the EC, the carriers had agreed to maintain the status quo in the market and to respect each other’s ongoing business on certain routes, or with certain customers, by quoting artificially high prices or not quoting at all in tenders for vehicle manufacturers.

The class action, which benefits from significant financial backing from Woodsford, follows on from the EC decision. It is one of the first of its kind to be filed in the UK and is estimated to be worth around £150m in damages for car buyers.

The Tribunal has authorised the claims to continue as collective proceedings, meaning that millions of motorists and businesses who bought or leased a new car between October 2006 and September 2015 could be in line for compensation because of the additional cost passed on in the price of their vehicles by the higher transport charges which resulted from the operation of the cartel. These individuals and businesses will now automatically be represented at court, unless they choose to leave – or opt out – of the claim.

The Tribunal confirmed that a special purpose company led by Mark McLaren, formerly of The Consumers’ Association, will act as the Class Representative. He is represented by the London office of international law firm Scott + Scott, and barristers from Brick Court chambers, funded by Woodsford.

Woodsford’s Chief Investment Officer, Charlie Morris, commented:

“This is an important milestone in the promotion of collective redress in the UK, which allows consumers and small businesses to achieve compensation for the wrongs committed by big business. Woodsford, a business dedicated to holding corporates to account and delivering access to justice, is proud to support Mr. McLaren, who is now much closer to obtaining compensation for the millions of consumers and businesses who have been overcharged.”

Steven Friel, Woodsford’s Chief Executive Officer, commented:

“This is a huge success for consumer redress in the UK, and I am proud of Woodsford’s significant part in it. This victory in Mark McLaren’s case relating to car delivery charges follows hot on the heels of a similar victory in Justin Gutmann’s case relating to train fares. Both are backed by the team here at Woodsford, which is now clearly established as the most successful ESG and litigation finance business in this area of UK collective redress. My only regret is that big corporate defendants, even after they have been found to have acted unlawfully, continue to use their significant legal and financial resource to fight technical arguments, with the goal of delaying compensation payments to consumers. The cartelists in this case should not have objected to certification of this class action. Now that the Court has thrown out their futile objections, they should settle the case and allow UK consumers to receive the compensation they are owed.”

Individuals and businesses who bought or leased a new car or van in the UK between October 2006 and September 2015 should visit