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  • by Karma Loveday

Sewage pollution class action advances as law firm issues letters to sewerage firms

Law firm, Leigh Day, has started issuing letters before action to water and sewerage companies regarding a planned opt-out class action relating to alleged unlawful sewage discharges into waterways.

A spokesperson confirmed letters had gone out to some but not all water and sewerage firms, with the majority thought to have been contacted. She said Leigh Day was still working on the claim, and intended to make a fuller announcement at the end of April.

The intention is to bring a claim to the Competition Appeals Tribunal. In November, Leigh Day announced it had secured a funding package from legal finance expert Bench Walk to pursue an opt-out claim on behalf water customers, which will contend that certain systematic failures relating to sewerage discharges resulted in increased charges to customers, constituting a breach of companies’ dominant position contrary to section 18 of the Competition Act 1998. Under opt-out claims, individuals do not need to sign up; everyone who has suffered loss is included unless they specifically choose to opt-out.

Leigh Day said it had instructed AlixPartners LLP as economic experts, Professor Peter Hammond as a consultant on the case, and Jon Turner KC, Julian Gregory, and Antonia Fitzpatrick of Monckton Chambers as the counsel team. Professor Carolyn Roberts, a water resource management specialist, is the proposed class representative.

Should they go ahead, the claims will be the first UK collective proceedings claims in the CAT with a strong environmental rationale and impact. The legal parties said that as well as providing individual compensation and justice, opt-out proceedings act as a deterrent to future misconduct.

Leigh Day is also currently investigating class action compensation for customers of South Staffs Water and Cambridge Water affected by the 2022 cyber attack which led to some customers’ details being released onto the dark web.

• Last week, Leigh Day announced it is investigating the potential for residents and water users in the Wye Valley to sue poultry farmers responsible for river pollution. Research has suggested 20 million chickens are present in the area at any one time, with production on an industrial scale.


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