Which? action to settle

The first representative action brought by consumer group Which? has been stayed at the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), with the two parties locked in settlement negotiations.

As part of the discussions, Which?’s lawyers Clyde & Co are pressing for costs, which could run to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Clydes competition partner Philippe Ruttley said that settlement was ongoing and if an agreement could not be reached, an appearance before the CAT was scheduled for the new year.

An intense media campaign in early 2007 by Which? promised redress for hundreds of thousands of customers, but the time-lag between the price-fixing and the action meant that many people no longer possessed vital evidence such as receipts. Ultimately, the action named just 144 customers aiming to secure compensation of £20 each.

DLA Piper client JJB Sports had already been fined £18.6m, after being found guilty of price-fixing by the Office of Fair Trading.