Multi-billion-pound class actions target video games and cryptocurrency

Playstation: £5bn claim

Two giant opt-out actions have been filed at the Competition Appeal Tribunal, claiming billions of pounds in damages on behalf of users of Sony PlayStation video games and cryptocurrency investors.

The first involves a potential nine million PlayStation users claiming up to £5bn from Sony for anti-competitive behaviour, the second around 240,000 UK investors who lost money after the cryptocurrency BSV was delisted by exchanges in 2019. They are seeking around £10bn.

Both groups of claimants have filed collective opt-out claims under the regime introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

The Sony claim is being brought on behalf of UK-based PlayStation users who bought digital games and/or add-on content from the PlayStation Store from August 2016.

It alleges that Sony breached UK and EU competition law by abusing its dominant position, resulting in consumers paying inflated prices for games and content.

Alex Neill, chief executive of consumer complaints website the Resolver Group, is the class representative. She is also sole director of Alex Neill Class Representative Limited, the not-for-profit special purpose vehicle which is bringing the claim.

Class action firm Milberg London – which is affiliated with US firm Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman – is acting for her.

The PlayStation class action is being funded by litigation funders Woodsford.

Steven Friel, CEO of Woodsford, said the company’s ESG team was “dedicated to holding big business to account when corporate wrongdoing causes loss to consumers and other stakeholders”.

Meanwhile, another niche London litigation firm, Velitor Law, is representing cryptocurrency investors through BSV Claims Ltd.

The claimants allege that four leading cryptocurrency exchanges colluded to delist BSV from 2019, engaging in anti-competitive conduct which caused thousands of consumers to suffer losses.

It is estimated that more than 240,000 investors in the UK suffered losses of around £10bn. The exchanges involved are Binance, Bittylicious, Kraken and Shapeshift.

The class representative is Lord Currie, chief executive of BSV Claims and a former chair of the Competition & Markets Authority. The case is funded by Softwhale Ventures.

Seamus Andrew, managing partner of Velitor, said: “This kind of claim is exactly the type of litigation the opt-out regime aims to support. We aim to show that these exchanges harmed BSV and seek compensation for the financial hurt caused to many small, individual investors – through no fault of their own.”

Lord Currie added: “Much of my professional life has been concerned with consumer protection. Ensuring fair competition is an essential part of protecting consumers. Consumers investing in cryptocurrencies should not be adversely affected by anti-competitive practices.”

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