Navigating the UK class action landscape: a guide for in-house lawyers and GCs

How Milberg London can help you manage and resolve complex and high-value class action claims.


Class actions are a rapidly developing phenomenon in the UK, with an increase in the number and complexity of claims being brought by groups of consumers, investors, employees, and other stakeholders for and against businesses. These claims can pose significant reputational, financial, and operational risks for companies, as well as create complex legal and procedural issues.

But it’s not all bad news, we believe class actions can also present opportunities for many businesses who are also victims of corporate wrongdoing across various industries. We are currently acting for a number of SMEs who are pursuing valuable claims on a group basis.

In this article, we share our insights and experience as one of the leading UK firms in the field of class actions and offer some practical advice and guidance for in-house lawyers and GCs.

The rise of class actions in the UK

Class actions, or collective actions/group litigation as they are known in the UK, seem like a relatively recent development in the UK legal market. However, it may surprise you to learn that the concept of group litigation has been around for centuries, and even its modern incarnation has been in place for decades.

The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) 19, which govern group litigation (particularly opt-in claims known as Group Litigation Orders or GLOs where potential claimants must actively give their permission to be included), were introduced in 1999. This was part of the sweeping reforms introduced to modernise the English legal system and to make civil litigation more accessible and efficient.

Going back even further, during the 19th century, cases like Watson v Cave helped shape the early use of representative actions (essentially an opt-out action where a claim is brought on behalf of an entire class of potential claimants without the need for them to proactively choose to participate).

That said, it is generally acknowledged that the legal framework for class actions in the UK is in its relative infancy compared to jurisdictions like the US, Australia and Canada who all have a long and successful history of prosecuting large-scale group litigation. There has certainly been a surge in the number and value of such claims in the UK in recent years, driven by several factors, such as:

  • The growth of litigation funding and insurance, which provide access to justice and risk-sharing for claimants and their lawyers.
  • US attorney investment in the UK diesel emissions group litigation.
  • The expansion of the jurisdiction and powers of the specialist courts and tribunals that deal with collective actions, such as the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
  • The influence of global trends and developments, such as the rise of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the increased cross-border cooperation and coordination among claimants and lawyers.
  • The emergence of boutique litigation firms, like Milberg London, who are specialists in originating, funding and executing these cases.

Opportunities for in-house lawyers and GCs

One of Milberg London’s founding partners Polly Blenkin observes that ‘group litigation presents a number of opportunities for in-house lawyers and GCs to deliver value to their businesses. Yes, this can involve risk management, minimising misconduct and avoiding the cost of being on the receiving end of litigation, but it can also mean spotting areas in which your company (and others in your industry) has been the victim of foul-play. One of the key benefits of modern-day group litigation is lawyers are usually prepared to act on a contingency basis, so there is no or limited hard cost and a successful resolution can deliver an upside to the business in damages which it would otherwise never see. I would encourage in-house lawyers and GCs to start looking at their businesses from this angle.’

Here are some areas of your business which may give rise to a claim:

  • Overcharging by service providers – is there a service in your company whose charges/deliverables don’t quite add up? Overcharging is more common than you might think.
  • Anti-competitive practices – have you suffered a loss because one or more of your suppliers or vendors has participated in a cartel or otherwise engaged in anti-competitive practices (for example, are you selling through an online app store or marketplace with a unfair charge to vendors)?
  • Business interruption insurance – did your insurer deny a legitimate claim under a policy during the pandemic? We have expertise in this area and there are a number of claims being litigated in the aftermath of Covid-19.
  • Securities or investment litigation – typically brought on behalf of shareholders, directors, companies, investment managers and advisers, and companies against asset and wealth management groups for losses arising out of untrue or misleading statements or omissions in listing particulars and other information published by an issuer of securities.
  • Professional indemnity insurance – did you take external legal advice on an investment scheme which went wrong?

Our capabilities

Milberg London is best known for acting in group actions, commercial litigation and civil fraud claims. The opportunities and challenges presented to us are to manage large-scale and complex litigation alongside and against much larger firms. We punch well above our weight due to our tight team of top talent, led by our experienced partners who have combined decades of experience running some of the largest cases before the English courts in
London’s top firms.

Our expertise includes:

  • Acting for a group of businesses who have uncovered a multi-million pound fraud perpetrated by one of the UK’s largest service providers. We are using our unique skills in funding and managing multi-party claims combined with our track record in running complex financial fraud cases to pursue this action.
  • Acted for SMEs in pursuing financial misselling claims against a number of well-known high street banks.

We also have a strong commercial litigation practice. Milberg London’s partners spent more than 15 years litigating in London’s powerhouses across the city (including Freshfields, Clyde & Co and Mishcon de Reya) before establishing their own firm.

Genuinely conflict-free, our team is well-placed to resolve complex, high value commercial disputes for clients. We have an in-depth understanding of disputes involving financial markets and products, private equity, hedge funds, data protection, shareholder and companies’ issues, fraud, and mis-selling.

We have acted for and against global financial institutions, major European banks, private equity houses, hedge funds, FTSE-100 listed retailers and international players in a range of sectors including manufacturing and natural resource extraction.


Class actions are a reality and a challenge for many businesses in the UK, and they are likely to increase in number and complexity in the future. In-house lawyers and GCs have a crucial role and responsibility in managing and resolving such claims, and they need to be equipped and ready to do so. As a UK firm with a proven track record and a deep expertise in class actions, we are here to help and support you in this endeavour. We can provide you with strategic advice, practical guidance, and effective representation, tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.