A collective of UK retailers is suing Amazon for up to £1.1 billion in damages, alleging that the tech giant misused data from smaller sellers to benefit its own operations.

The class action has been filed to London’s Competition Appeal Tribunal on behalf of the British Independent Retailers Association – and by proxy the approximately 35,000 retailers selling on Amazon’s UK marketplace – by law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Should the tribunal decide to proceed with the class action, a trial would follow in 2026 or later – unless Amazon settles with the retailers beforehand.

The allegations are centred on the claim that between October 2015 and the present date, Amazon illegally used data from independent UK retailers to determine which products it should create and sell itself; at what price they should be sold; then marketed them ahead of these now rival products.

With more than 80% of purchases on Amazon’s UK platforms made using the ‘buy now’ or ‘add to basket’ buttons – dubbed the ‘buy box’ – Bira also alleges that it manipulated this to favour its own products and conceal those belonging to rival sellers.

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“The filing of the claim today (Thursday) is the first step towards retailers obtaining compensation for what Amazon has done,” said Bira chief executive Andrew Goodacre.

“I am confident that the CAT will authorise the claim to go forward, and I look forward to the opportunity to present the case on behalf of UK retailers.

“The British public has a strong relationship with its local, independent retailers and ensuring they are not put out of business by Amazon’s illegal actions is a key driving force behind this collective action. 

“This is a watershed moment for UK retailers, but especially for small independent retailers in this country.”

In 2022, the Competition and Market Authority launched an investigation into whether Amazon was abusing its dominant position in the UK retail landscape. Last year the watchdog secured commitments from the firm around competitive practices.

An Amazon spokesperson said: “We have not seen this complaint, but based on the reporting so far we are confident that it is baseless and that this will be exposed in the legal process. Over 100,000 small and medium sized businesses in the UK sell on Amazon’s store, more than half of all physical product sales on our UK store are from independent selling partners, and the fact is that we only succeed when the businesses we work with succeed.”

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