Second Amazon “Buy Box” class action filed at Competition Appeal Tribunal

29 Jun 2023

Robert Hammond, a former solicitor and consumer rights advocate for over 20 years, has filed an application for an opt out Collective Proceedings Order before the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

By his application Mr Hammond seeks to act as the Class Representative for the claims of a large class of UK consumers. He alleges the class members have in aggregate suffered a substantial loss as the result of an alleged abuse of a dominant position by entities in the Amazon group of companies through the manner in which product offers were selected for display in the so-called “Buy Box” on Amazon’s online marketplace in the UK.

The proposed claim by Mr Hammond is the second application for a Collective Proceedings Order to have been issued in the Tribunal against Amazon in relation to similar allegations. An earlier application was issued by Julie Hunter. At a case management conference on 28 June 2023 the Tribunal’s President, Sir Marcus Smith, directed that the issue of which Class Representative should have carriage of the claims should be determined in the Autumn as a preliminary issue prior to the determination of the issue of certification (i.e. whether the proposed claim meets the necessary legal conditions to proceed). In the recent FX claims brought by the O’Higgins and Evans Class Representatives the Tribunal determined that carriage and certification should be heard together. That case is currently on appeal to the Court of Appeal. In the present case the President decided that the approach in the recent case of Claudio Pollack v Alphabet Inc. and Others [2023] CAT 34, Case No 1572/7/7/22 should be followed and that the issue of carriage, namely which class representative will better represent the interests of the class, should be determined before the issue of certification. He emphasised that the Tribunal is conscious that, at the stage of a carriage dispute, it should neither pre-determine nor appear to pre-determine issues that would arise at the later stage of certification, since this might give rise to a sense of grievance on the part of the proposed defendant, Amazon.

Philip Moser KC and Ben Rayment are instructed on behalf of Robert Hammond.

Jon Turner KC and Ciar McAndrew are instructed on behalf of Amazon.