Our Year In Review
2023 was an important year of growth at Charles Lyndon. We filed two further opt-out collective actions in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, saw major developments in our ongoing group claims, and cemented our position as leaders in the Japanese knotweed market. We were proud to have our hard work recognised and to be shortlisted at The Lawyer Awards 2023 for Litigation Boutique Firm of the Year.
With this continued growth and success, we welcomed a number of additions to the firm, including Eleanor Leedham (Of Counsel), Amr El Sawaf (Senior Associate), Stephen Littleford (Associate), Adrian Carr (Associate), Madeleine Hunter (Associate), Becca Harnby (Intern), Sofia Vagnone (Intern), and Nicola Mead (Executive Assistant), with a further three new joiners starting in 2024. We also saw Robert Wilson promoted to the position of Counsel as he takes on a greater leadership role within the firm. Owing to this success, we are moving to a larger office in Spring 2024.
With 2024 now well underway, we look back at our achievements in 2023 and share what we look forward to in the year ahead.
Collective Actions in the Competition Appeal Tribunal
In March, the Tribunal certified a further application for a collective proceedings order against the rail operator of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchises, and ordered them to be case managed along with our existing claim against the First MTR, Stagecoach, and London & South Eastern Railway franchises. The claims are brought on behalf of a large number of rail passengers who suffered loss as a result of the rail operators’ conduct and paid twice for parts of journeys, which overlapped with the zone of validity of their Travelcards.
We are now busy preparing for the first trial concerning the Defendants’ conduct, which is scheduled to commence in June 2024. This shall be followed by a second trial on causation and quantification of damages in June 2025.
2023 saw several groundbreaking developments in Justin Gutmann’s proposed opt-out collective proceedings against Apple on behalf of 23.8 million UK consumers alleging losses because of Apple’s concealment of a throttling feature that was surreptitiously installed on various iPhone models. In May, the parties’ much-anticipated certification hearing was adjourned as the Tribunal suggested that a pre-certification disclosure process would assist its assessment of certain factual issues. The Tribunal has made few such invitations before, and Charles Lyndon is delighted to have its article published on the lessons learned from process in the Thought Leaders 4 Magazine.
The Tribunal’s invitation led to a series of further orders and hearings on the matter of disclosure. Finally, in September the re-listed certification hearing took place, and, in November, the Tribunal handed down its judgment provisionally granting certification in this case.
Amazon Buy Box
In June, Charles Lyndon, co-counselling with Hagens Berman EMEA LLP, filed an application for a collective proceedings order on behalf of Robert Hammond against Amazon, seeking more than £1 billion in damages on behalf of UK consumers. This claim concerns how Amazon’s algorithm chooses unduly expensive products in its featured Buy Box, to the detriment of UK shoppers.
As another law firm, Hausfeld & Co LLP, filed a similar claim against Amazon in relation to the Buy Box algorithm, a “carriage” hearing was required to determine which firm should be allowed to take the claim forward to a certification hearing. This hearing took place before the Tribunal on 20 December 2023. On 5 February 2024, the Tribunal issued its judgment in favour of Mr Hammond, allowing his claim to go forward while staying Ms Hunter’s claim. Although Ms Hunter may appeal this decision, we are pleased with this result and we look forward to preparing Mr Hammond’s claim for the upcoming certification hearing.
Environmental and Financial Mis-selling Teams
In January, we successfully represented a client at the Royal Courts of Justice in a misrepresentation claim regarding the presence of Japanese Knotweed on a property they had purchased. The judgment confirmed that a seller should only tick ‘no’ on the TA6 form if they can be certain that knotweed is not affecting the property. The Defendant was ordered to pay over a hundred thousand pounds in damages and costs. The case was widely reported in the national press, an example of which can be seen here.
Other highlights from 2023 include successfully litigating a case concerning the encroachment of knotweed from council-owned land onto property causing damage and devaluation. We also represented clients in their claim against Project Solar UK Limited and Shawbrook Bank Limited where the Claimants were made promises about the performance of the panels and the returns that would be made following their installation, which transpired to be inaccurate. The Defendants were ordered to pay damages and costs totalling tens of thousands of pounds.
Looking Ahead to 2024
The Competition Appeal Tribunal shall hear more applications to commence collective proceedings that test the boundaries of the regime. At the same time, the Supreme Court’s decision in PACCAR continues to have ripple effects in the world of litigation funding, as multiple cases under challenge will make their way to the Court of Appeal. A partial settlement in opt-out collective proceedings was approved at the end of 2023, which should provide parties with clarity on what the Tribunal is looking for in settlement approval applications and thereby opening the door for others considering this path to resolution. Indeed, the competition collective proceedings regime looks set to continue to develop at pace in 2024, and we will be keeping a close eye every step of the way.
It is a privilege to do the work that we do, and we take pride in our role as a consumer champion firm. From representing individual claimants who have been mis-sold products in the market, to entire classes of UK consumers who have suffered as a result of abusive conduct by the largest and most powerful companies in the world, we are never afraid to take on the big fight, and we look forward to an even greater and more successful year ahead.