Multi-million pound vehicle delivery claim passes latest legal hurdle

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A claim against multiple maritime car carriers who operated an illegal cartel to manipulate car shipping prices has passed its latest legal hurdle.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has published a legal notice declaring that the £150 million car carriers claim against shipping companies for overcharging customers can proceed as an opt-out collective action, or class action, with Mark McLaren acting as the class representative through a not-for-profit company, incorporated to bring the claim.

This is one of the first opt-out proceedings certified by the CAT on behalf of consumers and the first on behalf of businesses, which means that if successful, any UK fleets which bought or leased affected new cars between October 2006 and September 2015 will automatically be entitled to compensation, without having to opt-in.  

Some 17 million cars are said to have been affected by the price fixing scheme and the claim value is expected to be up to £60 per car.  

Mark McLaren, class representative, said: “I am delighted by the CAT’s decision to certify this claim as eligible to proceed as a collective action.

“The claim will now progress to trial and I look forward to securing compensation for millions of UK consumers and businesses.

“These shipping companies have already been fined by the European Commission and this claim is the only means to secure compensation for new car and van buyers in the UK who suffered loss as a result of the cartelists’ illegal behaviour. 

“This claim demonstrates how legal action can hold companies accountable and secure access to justice for affected consumers and businesses.”

The proceedings against Nissan Motor Car Carrier Co, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, Eukor Car Carriers Inc and Compañía Sudamericana de Vapores SA were filed in February 2020

It followed the European Commission’s decision in 2018 to fine these shipping companies €395 million (£329m) for fixed prices and rigged bids for roll-on, roll-off (RoRo) transport of vehicles.

The EC found that the shippers had coordinated rates, allocated tenders, coordinated reductions of capacity in the market and exchanged commercially sensitive information to maintain or increase the price of intercontinental shipping of new vehicles.

When buying or leasing new vehicles, consumers and businesses pay for delivery costs and the class action aims to help that those who were overcharged get their money back.

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.

McLaren has instructed law firm Scott+Scott, a specialist dispute resolution firm whose solicitors have extensive expertise in competition litigation.

Class members who do not wish to be included, now have an opportunity to opt-out, which would mean they will not be entitled to claim a share of any settlement or damages recovered in due course. For more details on the opt-out process, class members should visit the claim website.

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24 June 2022

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