First consumer class action launched against scooter manufacturer Pride over breaches to competition law.

Law firm Leigh Day is bringing what is believed to be the first class action in the UK, representing the National Pensioners Convention on behalf of people who claim they paid too much for a mobility scooter from the manufacturer, Pride, which was found guilty of competition law breaches in 2014.

The class action claims that between 2010 and 2012, Pride banned retailers from advertising online prices below their recommended retail price (RRP).

According to the 2014 hearing, Pride was worried about the prices on the internet being too low and even referred to online retailers, who priced below the RRP, as “internet rogues”.

The ban made it harder for consumers to shop around for the best price. In March 2014, the Office of Fair Trading found that Pride had breached competition law by imposing the ban and that as a result consumers potentially paid higher prices.

In October 2015, the new Consumer Rights Act brought in, for the first time in the UK, an opt out class action regime to make it easier for consumers to claim compensation for breaches of competition law.

Class actions are a legal claim brought by one representative whose duty is to act fairly and adequately in the interests of all consumers affected by a company’s wrongdoing.

Before the class action regime was introduced, individual consumers would each have to opt in and bring a claim as a group claiming individual compensation.

Chris Haan from the conusumer law team at Leigh Day, said:

“This class action is about seeking compensation for consumers who were overcharged, and by how much. “Up to 34,000 Pride customers, who bought a scooter between 2010 and 2012, may be entitled to around a £200 refund, or even more in specific cases. A potential claim in total of up to £7.7million, including interest.”

Leigh Day are now waiting to hear back from Pride about reaching a collective settlement of the claim. If no settlement is reached, the National Pensioners Convention will need to apply to the Competition Appeal Tribunal for permission to bring the class action.

If permission is given, then all members of the class of affected consumers will be automatically covered by the claim. If the class action is successful, then the Tribunal can award a lump sum of compensation for all class members to share.

Class members then need to come forward to claim their compensation, which may be determined in accordance with a formula.

Mr Haan explained: “We are now keen to hear from anyone who believes they may have been affected, those people who bought or leased a mobility scooter manufactured by Pride Mobility Products Limited in the UK between approximately February 2010 and late 2012.

“This includes Pride scooters bought from any retailer in the UK, whether online or in a shop. It also includes Pride scooters leased through the Motability scheme.

“As it is a class action they don’t need to sign anything at this stage, or become a client but they can be kept up to date with developments via our website, as the case progresses.”

Dot Gibson, NPC general secretary said: “This is an important case because it lets manufacturers know that they cannot try and rip off older consumers. We believe Pride breached competition law by banning online retailers from selling scooters below the recommended retail price, and it’s right that we should test that in the courts.

"Someone has to stand up for older consumers, and whilst it might be about mobility scooters today, the ability to take out a class action means that this sort of case may well be used in the future against things like care homes. It’s an important landmark case.”