Consumer champion Robert Hammond wins his carriage dispute, and will be leading a £1 billion case against Amazon in the Competition Appeal Tribunal
- Mr Hammond is represented by a legal team that includes both Hagens Berman EMEA and UK boutique litigation firm Charles Lyndon.
- The case claims Amazon marketplace’s “Buy Box” algorithm violated UK competition law by artificially inflating product prices and illegally stifling competition.
- The Proposed Class comprises of more than 49.4 million adult UK users of Amazon marketplace from 1 October 2015 until at least 1 June 2020.
- Mr Hammond’s expert economist preliminary assessed the amount that UK customers have overpaid by more than £1 billion.
- More details about the claim can be found at claimagainstamazon.com
LONDON – Following a carriage hearing before the Competition Appeal Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) on 20 December 2023, the Tribunal chose consumer advocate, Mr Robert Hammond as the prevailing proposed class representative, to move forward with his application for a proposed Collective Proceedings Order case against Amazon.
Two consumer advocates, Mr Hammond and Ms Julie Hunter, had both made applications before the Tribunal against Amazon alleging that Amazon breaches competition laws in how it chooses products offering to put in the Buy Box.
As deemed by the Tribunal, due to the similarities between Mr Hammond’s and Ms Hunter’s applications, only one could proceed forward. The Tribunal handed down its judgment on 5 February 2024, in favour of Mr Hammond who will now prepare for the hearing to determine the Certification Order against Amazon, with his legal and expert team. Mr Hammond is confident that his claim will be certified, and is looking forward to the hearing, which is expected to be scheduled for later this year.
While the Tribunal saw some merit in Ms Hunter’s claim, it found that Mr Hammond’s was better suited to proceed forward placing particular reliance on the expert economic methodology his team had put forward.
Mr Hammond is represented by two notable competition law firms. Hagens Berman EMEA through its affiliate firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP has an award winning team with unrivalled history of antitrust litigation against Amazon, with seven active cases currently against the tech giant in the U.S. Charles Lyndon is experienced in advising on collective actions and competition law in the UK, including bringing the first collective standalone opt-out case before the Tribunal against London train operators and acting on behalf of Justin Gutmann in his case against Apple.
Robert Hammond is a former solicitor and Director of Consumer Policy with extensive experience championing consumer rights, including leading research and policy development teams at Consumer Focus and Citizens Advice. He is currently a Non-Executive Director on the Ofcom Communications Consumer Panel and Advisory Committee on Older and Disabled People, the UK communications regulator.
Robert Hammond said: “I am delighted at the outcome from the Tribunal and look forward to pursuing this claim on behalf of millions of consumers. I believe they have been misled by Amazon through the way the BuyBox was operated and have paid over the odds. I am grateful to Dr Chris Pike, my economic expert, my legal team and Counsel for their support in bringing this very worthy action, which I hope will provide redress to many millions of Amazon customers.”
“We are incredibly pleased with the Tribunal's decision to award carriage to Mr Hammond,” said Steve Berman, Managing Partner at Hagens Berman EMEA leading the case. “UK consumers deserve transparency from Amazon about how its product search algorithm shapes their shopping experience and dictates prices they pay for everyday goods, and we believe Mr Hammond’s claim will pursue this with the utmost expertise.”
About the Buy Box Claim Against Amazon
According to Robert Hammond’s application, Amazon used a proprietary algorithm to manipulate product offer results when consumers searched for products in its Marketplace. Amazon’s alleged abuses concern the so-called Buy Box, through which purchases can be made on the “Amazon Marketplace” online market and the related Featured Merchant Algorithm, which Amazon uses to select the “seller offer” featured in the Buy Box. It is alleged that, in selecting the seller offer, Amazon favoured its own retail offers and those of sellers that use Amazon’s fulfilment service. Amazon denies the allegations.
In more than 80% of the time, consumers accepted Amazon’s recommendation and purchased through the “Buy Box” without viewing other offers due to its intentional design, according to Hammond’s expert’s analysis. The claim alleges that the algorithm steered consumers towards product offerings that were more profitable for Amazon while obscuring other, often more affordable options. This behaviour reduced price and quality competition among sellers and caused consumers to pay more than for similar items on Amazon’s Marketplace.
An expert economic analysis found that Amazon overcharged consumers for products they bought via the Marketplace by more than £1 billion between 1 October 2015 and 1 June 2020. Depending on further evidence that may come to light, products purchased from Amazon in the UK from 1 June 2020 until the date of judgment may also have been overpriced and may be included in the claim.
Notes to Editors
Find out more about this claim here - https://www.claimagainstamazon.com/.
For more information please contact:
Hagens Berman EMEA