Consumer group Which?’s landmark representative action that promised to seek redress for “hundreds of thousands” of wronged football-shirt customers has only signed up 130 individuals, The Lawyer understands.
The on-going case sees Which? sue retailer JJB Sports on behalf of people who bought replica England and Manchester United football shirts between 2000 and 2001.
DLA Piper client JJB had already been found guilty of price-fixing in a 2003 decision by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), landing an £18.6m fine. That probe also named Umbro and AllSports as colluders.
An intense media campaign by Which? and its lawyers Clyde & Co followed February’s announcement that the group would be bringing the UK’s first representative action in front of the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT). Which? was granted powers to bring claims on behalf of wronged consumers under the Enterprise Act of 2002, but the football-shirts case is the first time it has exercised them.
Advertisements ran in local north-east papers for consumers who thought they had bought an affected shirt to come forward to join the action. Although at the time Which? suspected that many thousands of consumers had been affected by the price-fixing, it is understood that only 130 stepped forward to be named in the action.
Clyde & Co did not return calls for comment.