UK witnesses its first opt-out class action for breach of competition rules

Written on 11 Mar 2016

The UK has seen the launch of its first opt-out class action, whereby individuals must actively choose to opt-out of an action brought on behalf of a class of people seeking damages based on an assessment of all those affected.

The action, which is being brought by the National Pensioners Convention (NPC), seeks damages from Pride Mobility Products (PMP) following a 2014 ruling by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). In 2014, the OFT found that the mobility scooter manufacturer had infringed competition law, by banning online retailers from advertising its products below recommended retail price.

Solicitors acting for NPC have estimated that the claim may be worth up to £7.7 million, as they believe that 34,000 customers purchased a PMP scooter between 2010 and 2012, when the illegal pricing practice was found to have taken place.

PMP will have the opportunity to agree a settlement with NPC. If it declines or this fails, NPC can then apply to the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) to bring the class action in court. If the CAT then makes a ‘collective proceedings order’, all consumers who purchased a PMP scooter during the relevant time period will be covered by the claim, unless they choose to opt-out and pursue their own individual case.

As the first of its kind, this case will be watched with great interest. If a settlement between the parties is not reached, the CAT’s decision on whether to grant the collective proceedings order and the mechanics of the case as it unfolds will set precedent for those that follow.