Millions of UK motorists have been ripped off in £150m scam inflating the delivery costs of new cars 

A legal claim has been launched against five major shipping companies for conspiring to fix delivery costs of new cars and vans.

A legal claim has been launched against five major shipping companies for conspiring to fix delivery of new cars and vans. Sign up to stay updated if you bought or leased a new car or van between 2006 and 2015.

Consumer champion Mark McLaren, who is representing millions of affected motorists, said:

‘When UK consumers and businesses purchased or leased a new car, they paid more for the delivery of that car than they should have done… I strongly believe that compensation should be paid when consumers are harmed by such deliberate, unlawful conduct.’

About the shipping firm price fixing scandal

Five major shipping companies – MOL, “K” Line, NYK, WWL/EUKOR and CSAV – have been accused of operating a long-running illegal cartel to overcharge UK consumers and businesses for the delivery of new cars and vans. 

Consumers and businesses pay delivery costs when they buy or lease a new car. These companies – who play a big role in moving cars around the world – are accused of overcharging in excess of £150m.  

Across Europe, it is a breach of competition law for competitor companies to agree on the prices charged and to divide customers between them. From 2006 to 2012, the shipping companies were sharing commercially sensitive information, agreeing prices to set and dividing customers to avoid competing with each other. 

McLaren is arguing that the cartel is likely to have made the shipping costs for new vans and cars higher than it should have been. This in turn would have meant that car manufacturers would have paid too much to transport new vehicles from their factories to the UK – and customers are likely to have paid too much for delivery charges.

How motorists pay for delivery charges

Most brands manufacture vehicles outside of Europe and ship them into the UK. Car manufacturers take account of delivery costs, including shipping, when they set the price for new cars and vans. 

For ease, car manufacturers tend to divide the delivery costs equally amongst all of the cars and vans they sell. So, when a customer buys a new vehicle, they pay for delivery as part of the overall price – sometimes included in the listed price and sometimes as an additional charge. 

Car companies haven’t done anything wrong here – they simply passed on the higher costs to customers. The claim aims to recover these extra charges from the shipping companies who were part of the cartel.

Legal team behind the claim

Mark McLaren, who set up a not-for-profit company (Mark McLaren Class Representative Limited) to bring this claim, has instructed the law firm Scott+Scott UK LLP to represent his claim. 

Mark is represented by David Scott of Scott+Scott who said:

‘We are pleased to have this opportunity to act on behalf of UK consumers – both individuals and businesses – to help them recoup the losses they have suffered as a result of this long-running cartel.’ 

Scott+Scott have instructed a team of barristers led by Sarah Ford QC of Brick Court Chambers. The claim was given the green light to go to trial by the specialist legal body the Competition Appeal Tribunal in February 2022.

Who is eligible for compensation?

You could be owed up to £60 if you bought or leased a new car or van between 18 October 2006 and 6 September 2015. You may be entitled to claim for more if you bought or leased multiple vehicles during this time. 

The list of vehicle manufacturers included in the claim is large – including any manufacturer that shipped vehicles into Europe. They include big car manufacturing brands like BMW, Ford, Toyota, Vauxhall and Volkswagen.

If you’re affected by this, you are automatically included in the claim and entitled to any damages if you were based in the UK on 20 May 2022. The claim is being funded by Woodsford Litigation Funding, which means there are no costs or fees for being included as part of this claim. 

Sign up to Consumer Voice to stay updated as the claim progresses. 

Support for legal action against shipping companies

The companies have not publicly responded to the claim but others have come out in support. Steve Fowler, Editor-in-chief at Auto Express, said: 

‘We’re very happy to support this claim against the shipping companies and to hopefully see some redress for consumers who’ve paid too much for their cars. Buying a car is an expensive process, so any overcharging can make a big difference to car buyers.’

Investigations into shipping firm cartel

The legal action follows EU fines of £340m in 2018 after it was found that these companies were involved in an illegal cartel which increased car and van delivery charges. The companies were found to be conspiring to fix the cost of delivery. 

Margrethe Vestager, the European Commissioner for Competition, said: ‘The Commission has sanctioned several companies for colluding in the maritime transport of cars… we will not tolerate anti competitive behaviour affecting European consumers.

The five shipping companies found to by the European Commission to have taken part in the claim are:

  • MOL (Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Limited., MOL (Europe Africa) Ltd, and Nissan Motor Car Carrier Co., Ltd.)
  • “K” Line (Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd.)
  • NYK (Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha)
  • WWL-EUKOR (Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics AS, EUKOR Car Carriers, Inc., Wallenius Logistics AB, Wilhelmsen Ships Holding Malta Limited, Wallenius Lines AB, and Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics ASA)
  • CSAV (Compañía Sudamericana de Vapores S.A.)

These shipping firms have also been hit with fines exceeding £591m in other places around the world, including Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the United States, Peru, Brazil, South Africa and Chile.

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