UK: New UK Consumer Rights Act Has Implications For Private Damages Actions In Competition Law

The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 ("CRA") adopted on 26 March 2015 will introduce significant changes to the private enforcement of competition law in the UK. The CRA is expected to enter into effect by 1 October 2015 and, according to the UK government, represents some of the most significant reforms concerning consumer law to be enacted within a generation. This reform has serious implications for private actions involving breaches of competition law by expanding the powers of the Competition Appeal Tribunal ("CAT") and introducing new procedures for collective proceedings and collective settlement. These developments further demonstrate how the UK regulator is aiming to crack down on anti-competitive behaviour.

Expanding the powers of the CAT

The CRA provides for the expansion of the jurisdiction and the powers of the CAT, which is expected to have the effect of turning the UK's specialist antitrust court into a first-class competition court of preference. UK courts in general have long been favoured as a jurisdiction for competition claims due to their favourable disclosure rules as well as their willingness to assert jurisdiction. However, barriers were in place for competition claimants looking to bring 'stand-alone cases', where the High Court was the only viable venue – as the CAT did not have statutory authority to hear such cases. The current reform aims to thereby improve claimants' access to remedy through the following means:

Hearing 'stand-alone cases': The CAT will be able to adjudicate on 'stand-alone cases' (i.e., damages actions where there has been no finding of infringement by a competition authority against the defendant) as opposed to the current limited system of hearing 'follow-on actions' only. Following the reform, the CAT will have jurisdiction to hear stand-alone and follow-on claims, as well as cases involving both.

Implementing a 'fast-track': A new fast-track procedure will be introduced by the CAT, allowing for simpler cases (i.e., those involving less cost and evidence) to be resolved more expediently. This reform is meant to enable SMEs to bring private actions against larger corporations whose behaviour has been alleged to be anti-competitive and in breach of competition rules.

Granting injunctions: The CAT will be able to issue injunctions, providing claimants' with immediate relief by requiring cessation of anti-competitive conduct. This reform will be particularly useful for 'fast-track' cases, where the scope for relief will be considered early on in the process. This approach broadens the powers of the CAT from its current ability to award damages only.

Extending the limitation period: The CRA aligns the limitation period for bringing claims before the CAT with those applicable to bringing a civil claim before the High Court, i.e., six years from the date on which the cause of action accrued.

Collective actions and settlement

The CRA introduces new procedures for collective actions and collective settlement, as well as a redress scheme. The object of the reform is to provide prospective claimants with effective means to enforcement. However, broadening the scope of collective actions has caused some commentators to worry that the UK could be headed in the direction of US-style class actions. To avert such concerns, the CRA provides for safeguards which prohibit damages-based fee arrangements and exemplary damages in collective actions. The new procedures set out as follows:

Implementing 'opt-out' collective actions: The CRA broadens the range of representatives to a private damages action by including anyone (i.e., businesses, individuals or trade associations) directly affected by the alleged infringement, as long as the CAT deems such representatives as 'just and reasonable'. Thus, the effect could be that all UK customers affected by the infringement could be represented unless they actively seek to 'opt-out' of the action. In addition, non-UK customers may 'opt-in' to the action and can therefore be represented before the CAT. This reform is in contrast to the current approach in which a designated body (i.e., the consumer association Which?) must bring a collective damages action before the CAT and affected individuals to a collective action must 'opt-in'.

Increasing damages calculations: The CAT will be able to assess damages on an aggregated basis for the group, as opposed to the current approach which calculates damages on an individual basis as per opted-in claimant. Under this new approach, any awarded damages that are unclaimed within a specified period will either be paid: (i) to a prescribed charity; or (ii) towards a representative's costs as incurred in connection with the proceedings.

Implementing 'opt-out' collective settlement: The CRA provides for the possibility of representatives to collectively settle a case prior to bringing the claim before the CAT, so long as the CAT then deems the terms of settlement 'just and reasonable'. The representatives may negotiate on behalf of all UK claimants (as part of one group) who have not 'opted-out' as well as those non-UK claimants that have 'opted-in'.

Implementing a redress scheme: The CRA provides for the Competition and Markets Authority ("CMA") to authorise voluntary redress schemes whereby companies that have been the subject of an infringement finding – by the CMA itself or the European Commission – may offer compensation in consequence of an infringement decision. In return, the CMA can take account of this form of cooperation when assessing the level of the fine. It is, however, important to note that the scheme will not have the effect of protecting the company in breach of competition rules from being subject to private damages actions.

The changes outlined under the CRA and applicable to private damages actions in competition law are significant. They are expected to have an impact on the number of claims brought before the CAT and the size of damages paid out to claimants. They broaden the horizon of consumer litigation and also ease the way for more business-to-business claims, particularly as SMEs are encouraged to seek redress for harm suffered due to infringing conduct by larger entities.

It should be noted that further reforms will soon be needed to bring UK law into alignment with the EU Directive 2014/104 of the European Parliament and the Council of 26 November 2014 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union (see VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2014, No. 11,available at The EU Directive was adopted when the CRA had already been designed and its adoption process was in a final stage. Some aspects of the EU Directive, which will further facilitate private enforcement claims, were thus not covered by the CRA such as amendments to the applicable limitation periods under UK law, the introduction of a rebuttable presumption of harm and additional terms of settlement (i.e., when settling infringers can be asked to contribute to damages, or the size of reductions in damages claims in an action brought against a non-settling party involved in the infringement).

The full CRA can be accessed here:

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.