“Private enforcement” encouraged by UK competition authorities

Written on 7 Jul 2016

The competition authorities in the UK are encouraging “private enforcement” against anti-competitive behaviour in a number of ways. Last year the Consumer Rights Act 2015 introduced a new procedure for claimants to bring straightforward claims in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) using a “Fast Track” process.  Such cases will be heard by the CAT within 6 months of the claim being approved for Fast Track.  The first claim to be approved is due to be heard in November this year (read moreand so is being watched closely by potential claimants and defendants alike. 

Latest development – cost capping  

Claimants are often concerned that they might face high adverse costs if they lose an action, so they will also welcome the recent news that the judge in this case severely reduced the defendant’s maximum recoverable costs in this case to make them more “proportionate”.  

The defendant, the Law Society, had proposed a budget of £637,000 to fight the claim, including over £100,000 in relation to the short hearing, which the judge found excessive.  A cap of £350,000 was imposed on the Law Society’s recoverable costs – and the judge was at pains to point out that even this did not mean that the whole amount would be awarded. 

While the same approach will not apply in all cases, it is interesting to see the CAT take a strict stance on costs in this first Fast Track case – something that should encourage claimants, who are given the opportunity to reach a hearing quickly and with relative certainty over costs.  

To find out more, speak to our Competition Litigation experts.