Cohen Milstein mulls UK’s first class action

Class action law firm Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll is considering kick-starting the first collective action in the UK with a case against supermarkets and dairies for price-fixing.

The firm is looking to recover around £270m for consumers after the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) last week estimated this was how much customers were out of pocket due to supermarkets and dairy processors colluding to fix the price of products such as milk and butter during 2002 and 2003.
Cohen Milstein London office head Rob Murray said the firm was analysing the options for legal action on behalf of all consumers.

“This is a classic case where consumers collectively suffer massive harm, but individually will not be able to recover compensation because the cost of claiming is too great,” said Murray. “The only way to recover compensation is therefore a collective claim and the distribution of the total compensation to individual consumers.”

Any legal action on behalf of consumers would centre around the OFT’s findings that the supermarkets and dairies had restricted the competitive process, leading to higher prices, and that these actions may have been anticompetitive.

The news comes as the OFT is holding a hearing on its proposals to allow claims by groups of consumers and businesses today (24 September). The OFT’s proposals would allow for US-style class actions to take place in the UK.Ҵ