Answer ... Both follow-on and standalone claims can be brought before the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) or the High Court.
Answer ... Private enforcement actions can be brought against companies only as a follow-on claim under the Chapter I civil offence or standalone action.
Only the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) enforce the criminal offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; while the Crown Office Procurator Fiscal Service enforces such offence in Scotland.
Answer ... Following CAT approval, collective proceedings can be brought if the following requirements are met:
- The claimants have “the same, similar or related issues of fact or law”;
- The matter in dispute are “suitable to be brought in collective proceedings”; and
- The representative bringing such proceedings on behalf of the wider class of claimants is regarded as “just and reasonable”.
The CAT’s approval order will stipulate whether the class will be defined using the ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ model. Under the former, the representative will bring a claim on behalf of all parties that have expressly decided to participate; while under the latter, the representative will bring a claim on behalf of all parties that fit a particular description, unless some parties expressly choose to be excluded.
In July 2017 the CAT dismissed an application for ‘opt-out’ collective proceedings in MasterCard, on the basis that the parties had not adequately shown how any damages would be distributed so as to adequately reflect the losses suffered by the individual consumer parties, given their substantial number and stark differences. On 16 April 2019, the CoA set aside the CAT’s order dismissing the application. This has now been remitted to the CAT for re-hearing. The CoA denied Mastercard permission to appeal to the Supreme Court but Mastercard have sought leave to appeal directly to the Supreme Court – the result of which will likely not be known until early Autumn 2019.
In July 2018 two collective follow-on claims for damages were commenced against truck makers fined in the European Commission’s Trucks decision. The first is an ‘opt-out’ action brought by a special purpose vehicle, UK Trucks Claim Limited, claiming damages of up to £20,000 per truck. The second is an ‘opt-in’ action instituted by industry trade association the Road Haulage Association, encompassing more than 3,650 claimants. Approval of such claims by the CAT is pending, with the hearing initially scheduled for June 2019. However, on 17 May 2019, the Competition Appeal tribunal adjourned the two applications in view of uncertainty created by the Court of Appeal decision in the Mastercard case. The CAT decided that it was in the best interests of justice to adjourn the applications until either (i) the Supreme Court denies Mastercard’s application to appeal or (ii) until such time as the Supreme Court issues judgment on Mastercard’s appeal.
Answer ... Parties that are subject to a competition law investigation or infringement finding may also enter into voluntary redress schemes under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, to voluntarily compensate parties that have suffered loss as a result. A fast-track procedure for bringing claims is also available to small and medium-sized enterprises, where a hearing takes place within six months and the CAT can impose caps on the parties’ costs.
Answer ... Follow-on actions rely on a decision taken by either the CMA or the European Commission establishing a breach of competition law, meaning that the claimant is required only to prove that it suffered damage as a result. Standalone claims will succeed only if the claimant establishes that the defendant breached competition law, and that it suffered a loss as a result. The CAT may also grant injunctions as regards both standalone and follow-on actions, and such actions may be brought in the civil courts by way of a breach of statutory duty claim.
Answer ... The decision of either the CAT or High Court can be appealed to the Court of Appeal