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Cartel case could trigger US-style class actions in UK

Cartel case could trigger US-style class actions in UK

British Airways and other carriers accused of fixing cargo prices could face US-style class action suits in Britain for the first time. A ruling on the case is expected today.

BRITISH Airways and other carriers accused of fixing cargo prices could face US-style class action suits in Britain for the first time. A ruling on the case is expected today.

Two flower shippers who were denied the right to form a group to sue British Airways now wait for the Court of Appeal ruling.

A ruling in favour of the flower shippers could show it is possible to adopt a class action model in the UK without waiting for new legislative changes, London-based antirust lawyer Frances Murphy, who leads the antitrust practice at Jones Day LLP, told Bloomberg.

The ruling tomorrow has the potential to “mushroom”, said Murphy, by making it cheaper and faster to seek damages in the UK against companies that collude to inflate prices.

British Airways and 10 other carriers were fined a total of 799.4 million euros (AUD$1.09 billion) by the European Union last week following a three year probe of the cartel.

Customer class actions are rare in the UK, and have not been done on the scale that they have in the US.

If the cargo customers win their appeal and are permitted to form a call to sue the airline, the Court would essentially be loosening a Century-old rule, brining the UK closer to the US in terms of recovery for customers, Bloomberg reports.

“In some case, the class could be enormous,” Jonathan Hitchin, a lawyer at Allen & Overy in London told Bloomberg. “It would demonstrate that there is a widely available remedy for those who have suffered as a result of caretl behaviour.”


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