On November 5, 2019, the British Competition Appeals Tribunal held its first hearing for a consumer antitrust suit that will serve as a "test case" for American-style class action suits in the United Kingdom. Investors brought the collective action suit against banks including JPMorgan, Citibank, and Barclays, claiming that the banks unlawfully manipulated the foreign exchange market between 2007 and 2013 in violation of European competition laws. The plaintiffs include U.K.-based pension funds, asset managers, and corporations.57
In 2015, the United Kingdom passed the Consumer Rights Act, a law that introduced the possibility of initiating "opt-out" collective action suits for breaches of British or European Union competition law. The "opt-out" collective action would automatically bind U.K.-based members of a deffined group to the result of a legal action, and thus allow them to claim from the pool of damages unless they opt-out, much like in an American-style class action. Before 2015, British law only allowed "opt-in" collective actions, which made it more difficult to assemble claims.
While the opt-out collective action has been in place for several years in the United Kingdom, attempts to utilize the system have so far faced delays and challenges. An earlier suit meant to test the new opt-out action against Mastercard was blocked by the Competition Appeals Tribunal in 2017, a decision that was overturned by the Court of Appeal and is currently set to be heard by the Supreme Court.58
57 Joanne Faulkner, Class Action Comes to UK with Major Forex Rigging Suit, Law360 (Nov. 5, 2019), https://www.law360.com/classaction/articles/1216952.
58 See Kirstin Ridley & Iain Withers, Barclays, JP Morgan Among Banks Facing UK Class Action Over Forex-Rigging, Reuters (July 29, 2019), https://www.reuters.com/article/us-banks-forex-lawsuit/barclays-jp-morgan-among-banks-facing-uk-class-action-over-forex-rigging-idUSKCN1UO0LG; Sean Farrell, Barclays, RBS and Other Banks Face £1bn Forex Rigging Lawsuit, Guardian (July 29, 2019), https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jul/29/barclays-rbs-banks-forex-rigging-lawsuit-jp-morgan-citigroup-ubs.
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