David Went instructed in Collective Competition Claim against Govia Thameslink for overcharging rail passengers

July 6, 2021

David Went from Exchange Chambers has been instructed in an application to commence an opt-out collective action (“Claim“) in the Competition Appeal Tribunal against Govia Thameslink Railway Limited (“GTR“) and its parent companies, The Go-Ahead Group Plc and Keolis (UK) Ltd.

The Claim alleges that GTR is infringing UK competition rules by issuing fares restricting travel to Southern and/or Thameslink train brands on the London-Brighton mainline and then inflating the prices passengers must pay for fares allowing travel on two or all three GTR train brands (Gatwick Express, Southern and Thameslink). The Claim also alleges that GTR unlawfully inflates fares where passengers use Oyster or contactless payment facilities to tap in or tap out at London Victoria platforms 13 and 14 (including passengers who start or finish travel at GTR stations north of London).

The Claim states that the fare-setting regulatory regime does not entitle GTR to issue fares limited to only Southern and/or Thameslink train brands (except for advance fares) but requires GTR’s fares to permit travel on all three brands. Moreover, by charging higher prices for fares permitting travel on two or all three GTR train brands, GTR is abusing its dominant position in the market for rail services on the London-Brighton mainline in breach of Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998.

The Claim includes rail passengers who are domiciled in the United Kingdom and who after 30 September 2015: (i) purchased Any Permitted fares except where a fare was for travel exclusively within the Travelcard Zones; (ii) purchased Not Gatwick Express fares except where a fare was for travel exclusively within the Travelcard Zones; (iii) tapped in or out at London Victoria platforms 13 and 14; and/or (iv) were required to pay for penalty or excess fares on a GTR train brand excluded by the fare actually purchased. Anyone domiciled outside the United Kingdom who purchased any of these fares may choose to be included in the Claim.

Preliminary indications show that millions of passenger journeys will have been affected by the alleged unlawful conduct on the part of GTR.

Two seasoned rail campaigners Edward Vermeer and David Boyle seek to represent the class of passengers who have suffered damages arising from the Claim.

Messrs. Vermeer and Boyle have instructed Maitland Walker LLP, a law firm with offices in London, Taunton and Minehead.  The Maitland Walker team includes solicitors Julian Maitland-Walker and Adrian Render. Mr. Maitland-Walker is a leading competition practitioner with over 40 years in competition practice. Mr. Render is one of the few UK competition lawyers to have experience of opt-out collective action cases, having worked on U.S. Federal Multidistrict Litigation on a number of consumer cartel damages recovery and monopolisation opt-out actions.

Maitland Walker LLP has engaged Charles Hollander QC of Brick Court Chambers and David Went of Exchange Chambers to act as barristers for the Claim.

This legal action is being funded by LCM Funding UK Limited, a highly experienced third-party litigation funder, and insurance is in place to cover adverse fees or costs.

To learn more or for updates, visit the dedicated GTR Claim website at www.gtrclaim.co.uk or the Competition Appeals Tribunal website at www.catribunal.org.uk.