EU and UK competition law expert, Sophie Lawrance, has been quoted in Global Competition Review’s article, ‘Water companies slam novel UK environmental class actions’.
The piece summarises the accusations brought against various water companies regarding the overcharging of UK customers by discharging sewage into waterways. The underreporting of sewage discharge means that water companies have escaped punishment by Ofwat.
Sophie commented that if the case receives a collective proceedings order, it will be ‘evidence of the breadth’ of the UK’s abuse of dominance rules and the potential scope of the competition class action regime. Sophie said that while the European Court of Justice recently accepted that competition authorities in the EU may take a view on compliance with other areas of law, such as data protection, this is ‘arguably in a different category’, given that the obligation to keep waterways free of pollution is ‘less obviously connected’ to any commercial activity that is liable to affect competition. She also noted that the experienced barrister and economist team working on the case will certainly be aware of the
challenges they face.