Following the European Commission’s decision in February 2018 to fine shipping companies EUR 395 million, consumer rights champion Mark McLaren has launched a class action in the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (the “Tribunal“). The European Commission found that maritime car carriers fixed prices, rigged bids and allocated the market for roll-on, roll-off (“RoRo“) transport of vehicles.
Estimated to be worth £150 million, the follow-on class action is brought on behalf of all persons who purchased or financed new cars or light-medium weight commercial vehicles in the UK between 18 October 2006 and 6 September 2015 and were required to pay an unlawfully inflated delivery charge in respect of those vehicles as a result of the unlawful and anticompetitive conduct. The claim is brought against Nissan Motor Car Carrier Co. Ltd, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, Eukor Car Carriers Inc and Compañía Sudamericana de Vapores S.A.
A number of claims have already been commenced in the High Court in relation to the RoRo cartel. While those claims are brought on behalf of car manufacturers, the class claim focusses on recovery for consumers. The pass-on of any overcharge will therefore be an important issue in the event that the claims are certified to proceed. The potential interplay between the various claims also makes it more likely that the High Court claims will be transferred to the Tribunal, following a recent trend in which significant numbers of competition cases are being transferred from the High Court.
The bringing of another opt-out class claim
demonstrates the increasing popularity of and confidence in the Tribunal’s
collective actions regime, notwithstanding the ongoing uncertainty surrounding
the requirements for class certification pending the Supreme Court’s judgment
in Merricks v MasterCard. What is clear however is that these
claims are not going anywhere until that uncertainty is resolved.
It may be that we
will continue to see a flow of class claims being filed, particularly before
the end of the Brexit Transition Period given the lack of clarity as to the
status of Commission decisions in the UK after that date.
 Case 1339/7/7/20 – Mark McLaren Class Representative Limited v MOL (Europe Africa) Ltd and Others
 e.g. Daimler AG v. MOL (Europe Africa) Ltd and others