UK: High Court Ruling Not Friendly to Expansion of Class Actions

Last week in the UK, Sir Andrew Morritt, the chancellor of the High Court, issued a ruling that appears to undercut recent recommendations that “group litigation” be promoted in the UK. reports that in December 2008, the Civil Justice Council recommended that the group litigation model (GLO) be reformed in England and Wales to remove barriers and allow more entities to bring GLOs.

In the case at issue, US class action law firm Hausfeld filed a lawsuit on behalf of two importers of cut flowers, Emerald Supplies and Southern Glass House Produce, against British Airways.  The two importers reportedly sought to act as representatives of all “direct and indirect purchasers of airfreight services, the prices for which were inflated by the agreements or concerted practices”, arguing that the scope of Civil Procedure Rule 19.6 should be broadened to allow the claimants to act as representatives for a wider action.

Morritt, however, ruled that it was up to parliament to deal with representative actions and not for lawyers to stretch the use of Rule 19.6 to accommodate such cases. notes that as one of the most powerful figures in the senior judiciary, Morritt’s opinion carries much weight.

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