Group Litigation and UEFA’s own goal
The Chambers UK team explore the practice area of group litigation and highlight a key legal case, following the Champions League Final in May 2022.
Champions League Final and scenes of chaos
In May 2022, at the Stade de France in Paris, the Champions League Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid was preceded by scenes of chaos as crowd control measures failed. After ticket holders were left standing outside the stadium, huge queues led to bottlenecks and crushing incidents as fans struggled to get through the turnstiles. Some were refused entry altogether, even with valid tickets.
As the situation deteriorated, supporters were subject to the use of tear gas and pepper spray by French police.
“A willingness of funders to enter that market is increasing the number of class actions.”
Following the match, the start of which was delayed by 36 minutes, UEFA and French authorities sought to place the blame on Liverpool fans themselves, accusing them of disorderly conduct and the use of counterfeit tickets, despite there being little evidence of this.
Law firms including Pogust Goodhead and Leigh Day are preparing to potentially bring claims against UEFA on behalf of thousands of Liverpool supporters who attended the match. The claims will concern alleged breaches of contract and duty of care by UEFA and will seek damages for both physical and psychological injuries suffered at the event.
“Big companies are joining class actions as claimants in order to get it off the balance sheet."
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Collective action on the rise
The claims potentially being brought against UEFA form part of a larger pattern seen in the UK Courts for bring group actions against major companies and organisations.
“I put the rise in class actions to a broader public awareness in making these claims and a higher sophistication of law firms in drawing these claims together.”
Although successful “opt out” claims, similar to US class actions, remain elusive, group litigation orders on behalf of consumer classes are becoming increasingly common. The most obvious example is the Dieselgate scandal, which has resulted in multiple group claims being brought against automotive companies, including Volkswagen and Mercedes Benz.
“The firm we instruct is one of the few UK firms with genuine expertise and an ability to bookbuild. Many firms claim to have such expertise on the claimant side when, in truth, they are inexperienced.”
With this growing emphasis on consumer group claims, we have seen an increasing number of firms step in to provide specialised services to claimant groups. These include established UK outfits, litigation boutiques, and international players.
Group Litigation in Chambers UK 2023
With this in mind, we are recognising firms for the first time this year in a new table called Group Litigation: Claimant. This shines a light on the unique offering provided by firms that specialise in bringing group claims.
To find out which firms are ranked for this area, and to hear more about Group Litigation, please join us at our virtual launch event on 20th October.