Hunter proposed class rep refused permission to appeal in Amazon ‘Buybox’ claim

24 Apr 2024

The Chancellor of the High Court has refused an application for permission to appeal brought by Ms Julie Hunter against the ruling of the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which determined that the nature of the claim brought by Mr Philip Hammond against Amazon on behalf of UK consumers made him more suitable than Ms Hunter to act as the proposed class representative.  The Chancellor cited the remarks of Green LJ in Evans v Barclays Bank [2023] EWCA Civ 876 at [146] (a case which also concerned a “carriage” dispute as to which of two candidates should be the class representative in collective proceedings): “’The choice made by the CAT majority was a quintessential multifactorial evaluation. The CAT considered in the round a variety of factors relevant to who could conduct the proceedings best. The challenge is as to the weight the CAT attached to the various considerations as to which the CAT, as the expert in how proceedings play out at the nuts and bolts level, is vastly better placed than the Court of Appeal to form a view. The threshold for persuading the Court of Appeal to reverse the CAT’s decision is commensurately high.’ That statement of principle is equally applicable here, where the CAT has engaged in exactly that multifactorial evaluation and has preferred the methodology of Mr Hammond and his expert to that of Ms Hunter and her expert.”

Applying that approach the Chancellor concluded: “I do not consider that there was any error in the Ruling, let alone an error of law. The CAT simply preferred Mr Hammond’s expert’s methodology, a multifactorial evaluation which it was entitled to make. The proposed appeal comes nowhere near satisfying the high threshold for interference by the Court of Appeal to which Evans refers.”

The ruling on permission underlines the high bar which the losing party to a carriage dispute will have to overcome in or der to appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Philip Moser KC and Ben Rayment are instructed for Mr Hammond by Charles Lyndon Limited and Hagens Berman EMEA LLP.

Jon Turner KC is instructed by Herbert Smith Freehills LLP for Amazon.