Bira sues Amazon for £1.1bn on behalf of independent retailers

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The British Independent Retailers Association (Bira) has filed a £1.1 billion damages claim against Amazon on behalf of 35,000 independent retailers selling on its marketplace since 2015.

The association says the e-commerce giant has been “illegally misusing data and manipulating the Amazon Buy Box to benefit its own commercial operation and its overall revenues and profit.”

Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre, who has worked hard for several years to strengthen Britain’s independent retailers and the communities they support, says: “While the retailers involved knew about the large commissions charged by Amazon, they did not know about the added risk of their trading data being used by Amazon to take sales away from them.

“The filing of the claim today is the first step towards retailers obtaining compensation for what Amazon has done. I am confident that the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) will authorise the claim to go forward, and I look forward to the opportunity to present the case on behalf of UK retailers. This is a watershed moment for UK retailers, but especially for small independent retailers in this country.”

Bira has filed over 1,150 pages of documents with the CAT that set out the claim against Amazon. This includes a statement from Andrew Goodacre explaining why Bira is bringing the action and how it will manage the claim on behalf of the proposed class of retailers. There is also a report from a leading independent economic expert that supports the claim and a detailed plan for managing the claim, including how the proposed class of approximately 35,000 UK retailers will be communicated with through a claim website, newspapers, magazines and social media.

What is the claim against Amazon?

Bira says that between October 2015 and the present date, Amazon has been using “non-public” data belonging to UK retailers and manipulating the Amazon Buy Box to “engage in a product entry strategy that resulted in sales and profits being diverted from these retailers to Amazon.”

The retailers involved were said to be “unaware” that Amazon was allegedly illegally using their data for its benefit.

Amazon has long challenged the suggestion that when it makes and sells its own products, it misuses the information it collects from the marketplace’s third-party retailers. It has similarly challenged that it uses the Buy Box to preference its own retail operations.

Bira has instructed leading international law firm Willkie Farr and Gallagher (UK) LLP for the case. Partner Boris Bronfentrinker comments: “No individual retailer, no matter how large, is willing to get into the lion’s den and take the fight to Amazon, but fortunately Bira has shown that it will stand up and fight for UK retailers, backed with the financial muscle of one of the world’s largest litigation funders, and with a first-class team of advisors. Retailers in the UK were entitled to be treated better and fairly by Amazon. They were not, and this claim will deliver back to them the more than a billion pounds in damages that has been caused to them. We are honoured that Bira has entrusted us to bring such an important claim on behalf of retailers in the UK.”

If you sold new products on Amazon’s UK online marketplace between 1 October 2015 and 6 June 2024, Bira says you may have a claim for compensation.