Recently, the Government’s BIS (department for Business, Innovation and Skills) announced proposed changes to the way in which competition litigation is dealt with in the UK.
One of the proposed amendments is to widen the remit of the Competition Appeals Tribunal (‘CAT’). For example, the CAT would be granted jurisdiction to hear “stand alone” claims as well as “follow on actions” where a regulatory decision has already been taken.
In particular, the Government’s Response includes an interesting proposal which is designed to benefit SME claimants. This proposal includes a “streamlined” approach for ‘simpler’ CAT claims being brought primarily by SMEs. Other features include the introduction of caps on the level of cross-undertakings in damages ordered against claimants (if this is ordered at all), and caps on the legal costs generally, meaning more legal costs certainty for smaller businesses deciding to embark upon significant litigation.
It is likely that the introduction of the fast track system will be welcomed by many, largely because it enables the CAT to mirror many of the High Court procedures including in relation to settlement and limitation, as opposed to the existence of parallel proceedings. SME claimants will no doubt be very positive about these changes but it is extremely important to remember that these changes do not remove the entire costs risk associated with CAT claims; clients should still be alive to the options available to them in the litigation funding and insurance markets.
If you or your clients are interested in potential funding options for CAT actions, or in relation to competition litigation generally, please contact one of our specialist team below: