Last Friday (31 March), the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) allowed the first 'class action' brought under the new competition law collective redress regime to continue, at least for now. This is a follow-on claim seeking damages on an opt-out basis on behalf of consumer purchasers of Pride mobility scooters between 2010 and 2012, on the basis that Pride was found to have infringed competition law through a form of resale price maintenance. The class is estimated as comprising 27,000-32,000 people, and the damages as between £2.7 and £3.2 million.
Under the new regime, the CAT must make a collective proceedings order certifying a claim before it can proceed. The CAT must consider whether: it is "just and reasonable" for the putative representative to act on behalf of the class; the claims raise the "same, similar or related" issues of fact or law and are "suitable" to be brought in collective proceedings; and whether the action should be brought on an opt-in or an opt-out basis.
The present case is one of only two applications made to date for a collective proceedings order under the new regime. The CAT's decision in the second application – brought on behalf of over 46 million UK consumers against MasterCard (in relation to its interchange fees) and seeking around £14 billion in damages – is awaited.
In the present case, the CAT has not made a final decision on the application for a collective proceedings order, instead adjourning the application to allow the claimant representative to reformulate her claim in certain respects. However, the decision provides some clarification on important aspects of the regime. For more information please see our Competition, regulation and trade e-bulletin on the decision and other developments in the UK's competition landscape.