Following our earlier blog on the differences between "opt-out" and "opt-in" class actions, or group proceedings as they are known in Scotland, a settlement application has been lodged at the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal ("CAT") in relation to the Car Delivery Charges claim. This marks the first time an "opt-out" class action has been settled at court.
In Scotland, we currently have an "opt-in" system whereby every participant in the claim must be identified and give permission to be part of the action. "Opt-out" class actions, as are possible before the CAT, allow a claim to brought on behalf of a whole class of claimants, without their express consent.
Following a European Commission ruling in 2018 and a subsequent CAT decision in 2022, five shipping groups, that were alleged to be operating a price-fixing cartel to overcharge car carriers for delivery costs, were sued by Mark McLaren as class representative on behalf of consumers and businesses who purchased or leased vehicles affected by the alleged price-fixing, likely to involve more than 17 million cars.
A £1.5 million settlement has now been agreed by the class representative and one of the five shipping groups. This is the first ever settlement agreement reached in an "opt-out" claim in the UK and is a significant moment for class actions procedure.
Class members can apply to make submissions to the CAT prior to their consideration of the proposed settlement application. It is anticipated that the remaining four shipping groups will proceed to trial.