EU & UK Competition Law Bulletin

    April 2009

    British Airways seeks to avoid potential group litigation

    British Airways has attended a High Court hearing with the aim of preventing around 180 new claimants from joining an existing action brought against the airline in relation to its involvement in an alleged air cargo cartel. If allowed, a representative action such as this is likely to have important repercussions both for other airlines and for representative actions in the UK and beyond.

    Background

    The initial claim was lodged last autumn by Emerald Supplies Ltd and Southern Glass House Produce Ltd, both cut-flower wholesalers based in the south of England. The claimants imported flowers from Colombia and Kenya and allege that they suffered loss between 1999 and 2006 as a result of the cartel due to inflated prices, a decrease in sales volume, and ultimately damage to their brands. The claimants are seeking damages and interest.

    The potential 180 new claimants are thought to include companies in the same sector, as well as direct and indirect purchasers from sectors such as the engineering industry. British Airways has stated that 150 of those seeking to join the proceedings are subsidiaries of the same group, Dana Holding, a supplier of engineering parts.