About the Claim
From 2006 to 2012, five major shipping companies were involved in a cartel which affected the price of deep sea carriage of new motor vehicles, including cars and vans. The decision of the European Commission fining the shipping companies hundreds of millions of euros in fines is here. During the cartel period, the shipping companies shared confidential information, rigged tenders and prices, and reduced overall capacity on the car and van shipping market.
We believe that the cartel meant that car manufacturers paid too much to transport new vehicles from their factories around the world to the UK and Europe. In turn, customers who bought a new car or van between 18 October 2006 and 6 September 2015 are also likely to have paid too much by way of delivery charge.
That is because when a manufacturer sets the price for its new cars or vans, it takes account of its total delivery costs, including its shipping costs. For simplicity, car manufacturers typically divide their total delivery costs equally amongst all of the cars and/or vans that they sell. When a customer buys a new car or van, they pay for ‘delivery’, either separately or as part of the ‘on the road’ price.
Although the car manufacturers themselves have done nothing wrong, customers who bought a new car or van between 18 October 2006 and 6 September 2015 are therefore likely to have paid an increased delivery charge.
The Claim was filed in February 2020. Before a collective action can proceed, the Tribunal must authorise the proposed class representative and certify the claim as eligible to be included in collective proceedings. The certification hearing took place over three days, from 29 November to 1 December 2021. The Tribunal was chaired by the Honourable Mrs Justice Falk with Dr William Bishop (an economist) and Eamonn Doran (a solicitor) sitting as Ordinary Members.
The hearing began with our counsel making legal arguments, explaining the claim and why it should be certified. The shipping companies then set out their position. They focussed on three main areas of attack – (i) they argued that the methodology which our economist proposed could not calculate losses to class members, (ii) they argued that the class members with the most valuable claims should not automatically be included but should have to sign up to take part in the claim from the outset, and (iii) they argued that deceased persons’ estates should not be able to claim on behalf of class members who have now passed away. In the final section of the hearing, we answered the shipping companies’ criticisms, explaining why the points they made were wrong and why, despite those challenges, the claim should progress to the next stage.
We now await the Tribunal’s judgment on whether the claim will be certified. Although there is no formal deadline for the judgment, we anticipate that it will be handed in the Spring 2021.
19th March 2021
The first case management conference was held in the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London on 19 March 2021. A case management conference is a procedural hearing at which the Tribunal sets out how the next stages of the claim should proceed (known as giving ‘directions’). The order setting out these directions in full is available here or on the Tribunal website at https://www.catribunal.org.uk/cases/13397720-mark-mclaren-class-representative-limited
- The shippers must file a response to our application, with any supporting evidence, by 30 June 2021.
- We can file a reply to the shippers’ response by 1 October 2021.
- Any class member or anyone with an interest in the claim may object to the application or certification of Mark McLaren Class Representative Limited, or may apply to make submissions in the application. They must do so by 22 September 2021.
- The main class certification hearing has been scheduled for 29 November 2021.
Any confidential and/or commercially sensitive information will only be provided to named individuals within a ‘confidentiality ring’, ordered by the Tribunal.
“The Commission has sanctioned several companies for colluding in the maritime transport of cars… we will not tolerate anticompetitive behavior affecting European consumers.”Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition.
“When UK consumers and businesses purchased or leased a new car, I believe they paid more for the delivery than they should have done. I have spent much of my career working in consumer protection and I strongly believe that compensation should be paid when consumers are harmed by such deliberate, unlawful conduct.”Mark McLaren, Mark McLaren Class Representative Limited
“We're very happy to support this claim against the shipping companies and to hopefully see some redress for consumers who've paid too much for their cars. Buying a car is an expensive process, so any overcharging can make a big difference to car buyers.”Steve Fowler, Editor-in-chief, Auto Express