Car buyers launch collective action over delivery costs

McLaren: Unlawful conduct

A £150m opt-out collective action has been launched against five shipping companies whose cartel is alleged to have led to increased delivery costs for car buyers.

The claimant’s representative is Mark McLaren, a member of the Legal Services Consumer Panel, advised by US law firm Scott+Scott.

The action follows a ruling by the European Commission in 2018 that five companies involved in shipping cars and other new vehicles into Europe were operating as a cartel.

The companies – MOL, ‘K’ Line, NYK, CSAV and WWL/EUKOR – were found to have violated EU competition law and fined over €395m.

The claim argues that the cartel meant that car manufacturers paid too much to transport new vehicles from their factories around the world to the UK and Europe, and in turn customers who bought a new car or van between 18 October 2006 and 6 September 2015 were also likely to have paid too much by way of delivery charge.

The action, brought under the opt-out regime introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, is being funded by Woodsford Litigation Funding. Sarah Ford QC of Brick Court Chambers is leading the team of barristers that has been instructed.

Mr McLaren Class Representative Limited is the legal entity that has applied for a collective proceedings order. He is the sole director and member of the company.

He is advised by a committee led by former Court of Appeal judge Sir Richard Aikens, and including Kate Wellington, chief executive of the Costs Lawyer Standards Board, Nick Stace, chief executive of the Prince’s Trust and a non-executive director of the Financial Conduct Authority, and Steve Fowler, the editor-in-chief of Auto Express.

Mr McLaren said: “When UK consumers and businesses purchased or leased a new car, they paid more for the delivery of that car than they should have done, as a result of a long-running cartel by five of the world’s leading maritime shipping companies.

“I have spent much of my career working in consumer protection and I strongly believe that compensation should be paid when consumers are harmed by such deliberate, unlawful conduct.”

David Scott of Scott+Scott, said: “Claims of this kind, where very large numbers of class members each suffered losses that are too small to litigate individually, are precisely the types of claim that the UK collective actions regime was designed to facilitate.”

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