Any UK business or motorist who bought or leased a new car, van or truck between October 2006 and September 2015 could be eligible for compensation of up to £60 per vehicle.
The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has given the green light to a class action against multiple maritime car carriers who operated an illegal cartel to manipulate car shipping prices.
More than 17 million cars, vans and trucks are said to been affected by a price-fixing scheme run by several international shipping firms.
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.
If the collective action, which has been filed by consumer rights champion Mark McLaren, is successful, anyone who bought or leased an affected vehicle will be automatically entitled to compensation.
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.
The claim value is up to £60 per new car bought or leased and class members will be able to claim in respect of more than one vehicle.
McLaren has instructed Scott+Scott UK LLP as solicitors on behalf of consumers and businesses who purchased or leased new cars or vans, to proceed to trial.
He said: “The CPO (Collective Proceedings Order) is a crucial step in our case, and we are delighted at the CAT’s decision to authorise our claim to move forward.
“We look forward to securing compensation for the millions of UK consumers impacted by the cartelists’ illegal behavior.”
The claim, estimated to be worth £150 million, seeks to recover damages for individual customers and businesses who overpaid for their car as a result of higher delivery charges.
This differs, says McLaren, differs from earlier claims filed in relation to the RoRo cartel that represented car manufacturers.
David Scott, of Scott+Scott UK LLP, said: “This is an important judgment for class members, but also for the UK collective actions regime as a whole.
“When granting the collective proceedings order, the Tribunal correctly noted that collective proceedings such as this claim are important for ensuring that wrongdoers like the shipping companies modify their behaviour.”
Anyone who wishes to register their interest can do so here.