Settlement Approved in Woodsford Backed Class Action Against Stagecoach South Western

On Friday 10 May 2024, London’s specialist competition court, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”), handed down a judgment approving a £25m settlement between the class representative, Justin Gutmann, and the settling Defendant, Stagecoach South Western Trains Limited (“Stagecoach”). It is estimated that in excess of 1.4m rail passengers (“class members”) may be eligible for a share of the settlement sum.

This is only the second approved settlement within the CAT collective proceedings regime, with the first being a partial settlement in the Mark McLaren car delivery charges opt-out proceedings (McLaren v MOL (Europe Africa) Limited & Others) – an action also funded by Woodsford.

The claim alleged that SSWT abused its dominant position in not making ‘boundary fares’ or ‘extension tickets’ sufficiently available for purchase for travel on its services and that many passengers were therefore charged twice for part of a journey. Stagecoach agreed the settlement with no admissions of liability.

Woodsford’s CEO, Steven Friel, commented as follows:

“This settlement approval confirms Woodsford as the most active and the most successful litigation funder in the CAT collective proceedings regime. Our actions have resulted in the first two, and as yet only, court-approved settlements in the regime.

 I was particularly pleased to read the Tribunal’s expression of gratitude for the parties, their lawyers and Woodsford “coming together to come up with something that is acceptable in the interests of the class members” (judgement, para 41).

 The Tribunal repeatedly acknowledged the central role that funders like Woodsford play in collective actions, noting that Woodsford’s funding is “integral to the viability” of the claims being brought by Mr. Gutmann. More generally, the Tribunal noted: “without the funders, many of the cases for collective settlement proceeding cases will not be able to get off the ground. Lawyers will not take on cases like the present without some form of payment, and funders are central to providing the capital for this” (judgment, para 45).”

The CAT judgment can be found here.

To find out more about the case, visit the case website.

For the full press release, click here.