In 2021, despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, our firm continued its strong growth in clients and capabilities. Having launched at the start of 2020, by the end of the following year we had attracted over 100,000 clients who recognised our passion for helping them to access justice.
Providing a nationwide service, we expanded our reach to four regional offices at the legal heart of London, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Manchester. We also grew our portfolio to include five primary product lines including Data Breach, Emissions, Financial Products, Investment Fraud & Mis-selling, and Workers’ Rights.
To meet the needs of our growing client base, over the past 12 months we recruited many passionate and talented legal professionals to our rapidly expanding team, and in 2022, we plan to add many more in response to client demand.
Establishing a strong reputation amongst peer law firms and the wider legal profession, throughout the year, our expert lawyers continued to provide an authoritative voice on group action and high-profile cases in print, television, radio and online.
Championing individual data protection rights, our Data Breach team is pursuing many actions against businesses that have failed to uphold their data protection obligations. In June, the British Airways (BA) data breach was resolved on confidential terms following successful mediation and negotiation. We represented many clients in this case. We would encourage anyone who has suffered a GDPR violation to talk to our specialist lawyers and benefit from an experienced firm with a proven track record in holding well-funded organisations to account.
With the pressing climate emergency in the spotlight due to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), our Emissions team continued its fight against the car manufacturers accused of trying to cheat legal emission standards. Since launching our initial Volkswagen Group (VW) action in 2020 – which includes VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda – we discovered that VW may have fitted more diesel vehicles with illegal emissions defeat devices than initially thought. This means that some VW drivers may now have an emissions claim, even if they have been told previously that they do not qualify.
In 2021, our Workers’ Rights team made very good progress in the case against Uber, and we expect to be able to give our clients good news shortly. Uber has lost cases all the way up to the Supreme Court and the days of avoiding its obligations to drivers are over.
Within one year of starting, our Financial Products Group won numerous awards for our clients, and it is now scaling its operations to be able to answer the thousands of claims in relation to undeclared commission hidden by the banks.
Furthermore, since launching our Investment Fraud & Mis-selling group in the spring, our team has gone from strength-to-strength. In September, it was proud to collaborate with Ollie Ollerton, former UK special forces soldier and star of SAS: Who Dares Wins. Ollie helped explain why military personnel harmed by this scandal must get the compensation they are due. And in October, the group launched an action to raise awareness of sports fraud and help victims get their money back.
In August, our firm was shortlisted at The British Legal Awards in the ‘Independent Law Firm of the Year’ and the ‘Strategic Legal Operations Team of the Year’ categories. A month later, we were also shortlisted for ‘Disputes Boutique Firm of the Year’ at this year’s The Lawyer Awards.
In our Year in Review report, we look at some of the cases and happenings that occurred in the world of consumer law over the last 12 months, as well as some key developments within our firm. I hope you find it an interesting read.
Andrew Nugent Smith
We appointed Darren Shaw to lead our UK Financial Products Group. This group deals with a range of claims, including those arising out of undisclosed commission on PPI products and mortgage miscalculation. We are helping these customers claim back what they are due. With expected growth in these type of claims, we are also expanding our team in 2022 to ensure we can continue to provide the most responsive and robust service possible to our clients.
Following the Supreme Court ruling that Uber drivers are entitled to workers’ rights and are not self-employed, we were pleased to announce our partnership with the App Drivers and Couriers Union to support Uber drivers in this case.
We represented thousands of Uber drivers in attempting to recover lost historic wages.
Andrew Nugent Smith, commented in the Guardian after Uber advised its drivers that only a small number were entitled to backdated minimum wages and holiday pay following the Supreme Court ruling. We also received coverage about our Uber claim in several other publications including Computer Weekly, Wired, Personnel Today, Legal Futures and The New Statesman.
We announced an action against Vauxhall after it was accused of fitting defeat devices into some of its diesel-engine vehicles. As a result, affected Vauxhall vehicles appeared to comply with the required emissions standards when they did not.
Affected Vauxhall diesel owners and lessors may be entitled to thousands of pounds each.
We announced that we were registering interest in an equal pay claim against Tesco. This came after Tesco was accused of paying distribution centre employees as much as £3 an hour more than store staff – despite store and distribution centre workers doing jobs of equal value.
It is early days in the fight to get Tesco store workers equal pay, but we have tens of thousands of clients already signed up to our action and we are pleased with how it is progressing.
Andrew Nugent Smith commented in relation to Asda workers winning the first stage of their legal battle in the UK Supreme Court over equal pay. Andrew’s comments were published in Yahoo! Finance, People Management, and Edward Fennell’s Legal Diary. He said:
“This is a significant victory for shop floor workers in the long-running battle between supermarkets and their employees. Today’s ruling sets a strong precedent for other claims against large supermarkets.
“It is good to see that shop floor workers can now be validly compared to distribution workers, and that today’s Supreme Court ruling has been made in favour of employees.
“The reality is that shop floor workers are predominantly female and that a higher proportion of men work in distribution centres, so today’s ruling is also a victory for equality.”
Heading up our new Investment Fraud & Mis-selling group, Mark Kenkre joined our firm. With significant experience tracing and recovering the proceeds of fraud on behalf of claimants, Mark brought an impressive portfolio of multi-party actions against fraudsters and professional advisors who have failed to adequately protect consumers.
“I am delighted to join the team and I look forward to delivering excellent client service by holding to account those individuals and organisations who fail to adequately protect consumers.”
Mark Kenkre, Head of Investment Fraud and Mis-selling
Ben Rees joined us as Technical Director in our Investment Fraud & Mis-selling group. He brought a unique combination of legal training and deep financial services regulatory experience to the team.
In addition, David Owen joined us as Head of Costs with a remit to deal with all aspects of our legal costs.
Almost 500 British police officers issued a compensation claim in the High Court against Paymaster 1836, the pensions part of Equiniti Group.
“This data breach has had a significant impact on the individuals affected. Equiniti has thus far failed to recognise the seriousness of the data violation and the consequences on the many police officers involved. The breach included highly confidential information, which, placed in the wrong hands, could have significant repercussions, including identity theft, fraudulent activities resulting in financial losses, and emotional distress. Equiniti had a duty to protect this information and should be held accountable for its failure. It should compensate victims fairly.”
Kingsley Hayes, Head of Data Breach
The British Airways data breach action was resolved on confidential terms following successful mediation and negotiation. We represented many clients in this case, and we were delighted to have secured a settlement for those affected.
On 8 July 2021, the European Commission published findings that Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz were guilty of breaking EU antitrust rules by colluding to prevent the deployment of clean emissions technology. Volkswagen and BMW were fined a total of €875 million for breaking EU rules. But for Daimler’s (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz) assistance with the Commission’s investigation, it would also have been fined €727 million.
We are pursuing separate actions against Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Vauxhall over diesel emissions.
Andrew Nugent Smith explored what it means to be a modern lawyer and the power of New Law. Andrew’s article was published in Solicitors Journal.
Data revealed that the health sector had the highest number of non-cyber related data breach incidents between April and June. The sector was responsible for more than a quarter of all reported incidents. Kingsley Hayes examined data violations in the health sector and his article was published in Legal Futures.
Kingsley also discussed the legal obstacles the NHS will need to overcome before it uses algorithmic decision making to tackle record waiting list backlogs. Kingsley’s article was published in ISBuzz news.
We launched ‘In Brief’, our first client newsletter. This regular communication helps keep our clients up to date with relevant case developments and new actions at our firm. It also allows clients to share their thoughts on working with us. In this first edition, we introduced our big cases and key staff to help clients get to know our people and our firm a bit better.
Technology is being used to help sportspeople reach their full potential. Everything they do is measured including their health, performance, sleep, and diet. Clubs and sports teams understand that analytics can improve their chances of winning and most players are happy to have their data analysed to benefit their individual and team performance. But their information could be being exploited in ways they have not agreed to.
Protecting the rights of athletes, we launched an action to help them get compensation.
Andrew Nugent Smith commented in the Law Society Gazette on the UK’s growing group action litigation market.
“Litigation funding used to be a bit of a dirty word, based on the idea that the cases were just brought by funders to fill their pockets. But now there’s a recognition that for these collective redress cases to work, litigation funding is essential and therefore litigation funding is an important tool for access to justice.”
A meritocratic firm which empowers staff to control how they work, we promote people from within, so staff know they have a bright future with us. In 2021, we officially launched our Internal Training Programme offering solicitor training contracts to our paralegals. In September, our first cohort began their training contracts.
Thousands of former service personnel were persuaded to transfer their money out of the Military of Defence pension scheme. Many did this after being targeted by unregulated salespeople and overseas companies who convinced them to move their funds into private schemes. However, all too often, the risks of transferring a military pension were not fully explained, and numerous former and current service personnel have lost thousands as a result.
Our investment Fraud & Mis-selling team launched a military pension mis-selling claim to help victims of this scandal claim compensation. To ensure maximum awareness of this issue, we were delighted to collaborate with Ollie Ollerton, former UK special forces soldier and star of SAS: Who Dares Wins. He explained why military personnel harmed by this scandal must get the compensation they are due.
The Mirror published an article discussing the new legal challenge faced by Volkswagen due to emission-cheating devices.
Hannah Wright Jones, Senior Associate, commented: “Earlier this year, Volkswagen was held to account by the European Commission for colluding to stop new clean emissions technology from being deployed. This recent example is separate from the 2015 “dieselgate” emissions scandal, which continues to haunt Volkswagen due to ongoing litigation.”
The firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team ran a fundraiser in support of the Liverpool Domestic Abuse Service (LDAS) as incidents of domestic violence increased significantly during the pandemic.
Many sportsmen and sportswomen in England & Wales have been defrauded by unscrupulous financial advisors and banks – often losing fortunes as a result. Our Investment Fraud & Mis-selling group launched an action to raise awareness of this issue and help victims of sports fraud get back the money stolen from them.
In October 2021, our expert lawyers spoke on a wide range of consumer law issues:
Global Data Review published an article reporting on the Lloyd v Google judgment, including an analysis of the case and its implications on the future of data protection. Kingsley Hayes, Head of Data Breach, commented on the decision.
Ben Rees, Technical Director of our Investment Fraud & Mis-selling group, highlighted the need for reform at the FCA to prevent major financial scandals. Pointing to the recent British Steel Pension scandal, Ben’s article was published in Lawyer Monthly.
Experts in a wide range of commercial, employment and consumer litigation, when it comes to getting justice for our clients against big companies, we don’t just even the score, we take the fight to them.
The strength and means of our firm ensure that we never have to back down from a challenge. And with access to whatever resource we need – be that time to go the long-haul or the expertise to delve deep into the evidence – we have everything it takes to win.
With years of experience working in commercial litigation and a genuine understanding of the inner workings of large defendants, our knowledge of the business world sets us apart from the usual group action law firm. In addition, our deep understanding of the litigation system – from the best people to use on any case to the most effective technical approach – means we are perfectly placed to deliver justice.
Find out more about making a no-win, no-fee claim with Keller Postman UK.