On 5 July 2012, in an extremely unusual case, a UK court awarded damages for a competition law infringement. Despite the low value of the award, the judgment demonstrates that private litigants can succeed before UK courts and the award of exemplary damages in the case may encourage others to try their hand.
The case followed a 2008 UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) decision which found that bus operator Cardiff Bus had abused a dominant position by engaging in predatory pricing. 2 Travel, a former competitor which had gone into liquidation, brought a private damages action against Cardiff Bus based on the decision. The court awarded compensatory damages for loss of profits (of around GBP34,000 plus interest) but rejected claims for damages in relation to a number of other categories of compensatory loss. In addition, and very significantly, the court awarded exemplary (punitive) damages (of GBP60,000) since it considered that the basic compensatory damages award was insufficient alone to punish the defendant.
The judgment was handed down during the period of a consultation by the UK Government on methods to promote private sector challenges to anti-competitive practices in the UK. The consultation period closed on 24 July 2012 and the results are awaited.