In 2014, the European Commission fined 11 cables manufacturers over €300 million for participating in an unlawful cartel in relation to high-voltage underground and submarine power cables between 1999 and 2009. The Commission found that for almost a decade, the companies shared markets and allocated customers amongst themselves on an almost worldwide scale. The companies shared pricing information and allocated projects, including large infrastructure and renewable energy projects across Europe, such as offshore windfarms.
We allege that the cartel resulted in electricity suppliers in Great Britain (amongst others) buying cables at a price higher than they would have done, had the cables manufacturers not engaged in illegal conduct. The suppliers passed these increased costs on to their own customers through regulatory mechanisms that allow them to recover their capital expenditure over time. This means that as a result of the cartel, consumers electricity bills are higher than they otherwise would have been (and will continue to be for some time).
Although the European Commission fined the cables manufacturers over €300 million, this money does not get paid back to victims of the cartel.
This is a collective action is seeking to recover compensation for energy consumers in England, Scotland & Wales. Unfortunately, residents of Northern Ireland are excluded from the class due to differences in the way the regulatory regime works in the Northern Irish electricity sector.
The proposed class is comprised of UK consumers who purchased one or more home energy policies for a domestic property located in the UK.
A class member is someone who meets the relevant criteria as an affected party that has suffered some form of wrongdoing, and who is therefore eligible to (subject to legal proceedings) receive compensation as a result of these wrongdoings.
All people alive (and representatives of the estates of deceased people) who on or after 1 April 2001 bore the cost of paying for domestic consumption of electricity supplied via the distribution network in Great Britain are included in the class.
No. The class includes all people who bore the cost of paying for domestic consumption of electricity, regardless of whether they were the named bill payer.
Yes, tenants are included in the claim provided that they bore the cost of the electricity. You will just need to present the correct documents when needed.
Unfortunately not. Residents of Northern Ireland are excluded from the class due to differences in the way the regulatory regime works in the Northern Irish electricity sector.
Yes. People on time-of-use tariffs are included in this claim.
The claim is against three major manufacturers of underground and submarine power cables: Nexans, NKT and Prysmian. All of these manufacturers were found by the European Commission to have taken part in the unlawful cartel.
Other manufacturers that were the subject of the European Commission Decision are: ABB, Brugg, Safran, Silec, JPS, VISCAS, EXSYM, LS Cable and Taihan. A copy of the European Commission’s press release is available here.
The claim is against the manufacturers of the high-voltage power cables and does not allege that electricity suppliers have done anything wrong.
Clare Spottiswoode CBE is seeking to bring this claim on behalf of the class. For more information about Clare and the rest of the team involved in bringing the claim, please see the About Us page.
The claim is being brought in the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (also known as the “CAT”) which is a specialist court based in London. The CAT hears and decides cases involving competition issues and has expertise in law, economics, business and accountancy. The CAT publishes its Rules and Guidance, together with information about what it does, on its website: www.catribunal.org.uk.
As part of bringing the claim, Clare has secured funding from one of the world’s leading litigation funders, Burford Capital. This means that she, through Burford, will pay for all of the legal and other costs of the claim (including the Defendants’ costs if the claim is unsuccessful).
Burford will be entitled to a return on their investment if the claim is successful. Any return will be paid from undistributed damages (the amount left over when members of the class have claimed their share) so class members will receive 100% of their damages. Any return to Burford must be approved by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
No money is available now, and recovery is not guaranteed.
Clare is applying to the Competition Appeal Tribunal for a Collective Proceedings Order, which, if granted, will allow her to continue to bring the claim. If and when the application is granted, we will then need to prove our case at trial, unless the case settles before them.
The precise value of the claim will be based on experts’ analysis of data which the cables manufacturers will provide at a later stage of the claim, but we estimate that the class as a whole suffered damages in the hundreds of millions of pounds.
Once we know the total loss suffered, we will be able to provide more information on how much individual class members will receive.
The legal process could take several years, so please be patient. It is possible that the case will settle without going to trial, in which case compensation could be available sooner.
This is an ‘opt-out’ claim which means that anyone who falls within the class definition and lives in the UK will automatically be included, unless they actively opt-out. The claim is for an ‘aggregate award of damages’ for all members of the class, so class members do not have to sign up to be part of the claim at the outset, and will still be entitled to their share of any damages or settlement sums received.
However, we would strongly recommend that people who fall within the class register to be kept updated at key stages of the litigation or where there are damages or settlement sum available for class members.
You should not contact your electricity supplier, as they have no involvement in the claim.
These are ‘opt-out’ proceedings which means that anyone who lives in the UK and falls within the class definition will automatically be included in the proceedings unless they actively choose not to be.
If you do not wish to be included, there will be an opportunity to opt out of the action once the claim is certified.
When you register your interest in this claim, you will receive updates about developments in the claim and information about any action you may be required to take. In addition, you can track the progress of the claim on this website, and via the relevant social media channels – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Collective actions are a form of court procedure introduced to the UK by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which enable a class representative to bring proceedings on behalf of numerous people affected by an infringement of EU or UK competition law. They combine individual claims that raise the same, similar, or related issues of fact or law (known as “common issues”).
Before a collective action can proceed, the Competition Appeal Tribunal must make a collective proceedings order (“CPO”) authorising the class representative, and certifying the claims as eligible to be included in collective proceedings.
When the CPO has been made, the matter progresses to a trial of the common issues unless the case settles first. After success at trial or settlement, the damages are distributed amongst the class members using a distribution method approved by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
This is an ‘opt-out’ collective action, so anyone based in the UK who is within the class is automatically included in the proceedings unless they actively choose not to be.
If you are no longer based in the UK but previously paid for domestic electricity, you can still participate in the claim but will have to sign up (‘opt in’) once the claim has been certified. In the meantime, you should register your interest here.
The claim relates to high-voltage underground and/or submarine power cables, used for the transmission and distribution of electrical power (as well as all products, works and services sold as part of a power cable project). High-voltage cables are generally purchased by large national grid operators and electricity companies, and by national utilities and private developers of offshore windfarms.
The cartel did not affect medium or low voltage cables, which are used in building works or to connect properties to the grid.
At this stage we cannot be certain. Legal proceedings of this nature can take a long time, and it depends on certain decisions taken by the court. We will update you as the claim progresses. At this stage, it is estimated it will take a few years for the claim to reach a conclusion. It may be possible to resolve the claim sooner if a settlement can be agreed.
No. The Commission’s decision against the cartelists was issued before the UK’s departure from the European Union, so it will be enforceable in the UK courts.