Claimants Vie Amazon £900M Class Action

Claimants Vie Amazon £900M Class Action

In a dramatic courtroom clash, two proposed class representatives stood before Britain’s antitrust tribunal, each vying to lead a £900 million class action against Amazon. The battle revolves around Amazon’s alleged manipulation of product displays, favoring its offerings and violating competition laws.

Claimants Vie Amazon £900M Class Action : Claimants Argue for the Lead Role

Marie Demetriou KC of Brick Court Chambers, representing independent consultant Julie Hunter, passionately urged the Competition Appeal Tribunal to determine which claim would better serve the interests of the class. The central allegation is that Amazon, as the dominant online marketplace, steered customers towards its “featured offer,” causing substantial losses to class members.

Both claimants assert that Amazon’s Buy Box service, which promotes a “feature offer” for each product, is manipulated by an algorithm favoring the company’s logistics services and its own retail division. This, they argue, leads potential buyers away from potentially better offers, creating a perplexing marketplace where the best deals are obscured.

Claimants Vie Amazon £900M Class Action : The Stakes and Allegations

Hunter, chair of the Consumer and Public Interest Network, is seeking £875 million in damages, representing anyone in the U.K. who made purchases on or the Amazon app since October 2016. On the other side, Robert Hammond, a former solicitor and consumer rights advocate, aims for a claim of up to £1.3 billion for consumers affected between 2015 and 2020.

Aligning Claims with Regulatory Decisions

Demetriou underscored the importance of Hunter’s claim aligning with decisions by the Competition Markets Authority and the European Commission. Amazon’s promises to these entities not to exploit data from third-party sellers serve as a backdrop to the legal dispute.

Claimants Vie Amazon £900M Class Action : Clash of Methodologies

The courtroom tension escalated as Demetriou highlighted the distinctions in their approaches. Hunter seeks to confront consumer losses head-on by determining the product that would have “won” the Buy Box without alleged abuse. In contrast, Hammond’s methodology, according to Demetriou, lacks a clear methodology for calculating loss, relying on rerunning the algorithm stripped of discrimination.

Defense and Counterarguments

Philip Moser KC of Monckton Chambers, representing Hammond, countered that Hunter’s case would face challenges at the certification stage. He argued that Amazon had already rectified discriminatory aspects of its algorithm as per commitments to regulatory bodies. Moser contended that Hammond’s expert had the necessary tools to determine loss, labeling Hunter’s case as unnecessarily complicated.

Claimants Vie Amazon £900M Class Action : Tribunal’s Verdict

The tribunal’s landmark decision in October to consolidate claims against Google offers a precedent. Whether it will pick the most viable claim or merge the competing ones remains uncertain, adding an element of burstiness to the legal saga.