Motorist £150m class action lawsuit over shipping cartel is given green light to proceed – Car Dealer Magazine
Motorists who bought a new car between 2006 and 2015 could soon be entitled to an automatic payout from five of the world’s biggest shipping companies in a £150m legal case.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal in London ruled yesterday (Feb 18) that a collective proceedings order (CPO) can be launched on behalf of UK consumers and businesses, which would see payouts on about 17m vehicles.
Mark McLaren, formerly of consumer group Which?, argued successfully that a class action suit should proceed. It means anyone who bought an affected car will be automatically entitled to compensation.
The five companies are MOL, ‘K’ Line, NYK, WWL/EUKOR and CSAV.
They’re accused of setting up cartels to inflate charges for shipping during nine years. If found in breach of competition laws, they could have to pay out £150m to thousands of car buyers.
Bosses have already admitted to officials at the European Commission that the cartels existed, leading to a fine of nearly 400m euros (circa £340m), but now they face payouts to motorists in the UK.
McLaren said: ‘The CPO is a crucial step in our case, and we are delighted at the tribunal’s decision to authorize our claim to move forward.
‘We look forward to securing compensation for the millions of UK consumers impacted by the cartelists’ illegal behaviour’
Law firm Scott+Scott UK has been instructed, with funding from Woodsford Litigation Funding.
If the next stage is successful, motorists could get around £60 per new vehicle leased or bought. It affects 80 per cent of all new car and van sales in the UK.
Investigations and hearings over the cartels have already taken place in Australia, China, Japan, the US, Brazil and South Africa among others – with fines handed out in excess of 755m dollars (£591m).
Customers affected include those who bought from Ford, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, Peugeot, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota, Citroen and Renault between October 2006 and September 2015.
David Scott of Scott+Scott UK said: ‘This is an important judgment for class members, but also for the UK collective actions regime as a whole.
‘When granting the order, the tribunal correctly noted that collective proceedings such as this claim are important for ensuring that wrongdoers like the shipping companies modify their behaviour.’