Specialist US class action law firm Scott & Scott has filed an opt-out collective action under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 against five banks that unlawfully manipulated the foreign exchange (FX) market between 2007 and 2013.
The representative of the claimant group, Michael O’Higgins, former chairman of the Pensions Regulator, has filed against Barclays, Citibank, Royal Bank of Scotland, JPMorgan and UBS on behalf of affected entities, including pension funds, asset managers, hedge funds and corporates.
The action in the Competition Appeal Tribunal is backed by litigation funder Therium Capital Management, while after-the-event insurance is also in place. The claim website said Therium would only be paid from undistributed damages.
The case follows the European Commission’s ruling on 16 May 2019 that the banks – which have now been fined more than $8.5bn collectively by 11 regulators globally – violated EU competition law by exchanging commercially sensitive information and trading plans, and coordinating their trading strategies via two cartels. It fined them €1bn.
Mr O’Higgins, director of Michael O’Higgins FX Class Representative Limited, the company set up to bring this claim, is currently chairman of the Local Pensions Partnership and of the Channel Island Competition and Regulatory Authorities.
“The fines imposed on the banks by the European Commission were an important first step, but they will not compensate those who were damaged or suffered losses,” he said.
“Just as compensation has been won in the US, our legal action in the UK will seek to return hundreds of millions of pounds to pension funds and other corporates who were targeted by the cartel”
Scott & Scott, which specialises in antitrust, arbitration and securities cases, and has an office in London, led a class action in the US against 15 banks for manipulating the FX market, obtaining over $2.3bn in settlements for which final approval was granted on 6 August 2018.
Managing partner David Scott said: “Our experience with this litigation gives us a tremendous advantage in pursuing this case on behalf of victims in the UK and abroad so that they also receive fair and equitable compensation.
“Michael O’Higgins’ experience in the pensions industry, which the banks specifically targeted, make him ideally placed to run this claim on behalf of this class.”
Mr O’Higgins has also instructed barristers from Brick Court Chambers, led by Daniel Jowell QC.