Judge agrees separate blacklisting High Court cases can be rolled together, with trial expected to begin later this year

The High Court has agreed to roll a handful of separate legal cases concerning blacklisting in the construction industry into one single ‘super case’, with the trial expected to begin later this year.

Hugh Tomlinson QC of Matrix Chambers - acting on behalf of the original blacklisting claim brought on behalf of 79 workers by solicitor Guney Clark & Ryan - was joined at a hearing in the Royal Courts of Justice this week by barristers acting for three other claims brought by three separate trade unions - the GMB, Ucatt and Unite - on behalf of their members, who allege they were blacklisted.

All four are compensation claims made against major contractors which employed the services of blacklisting firm the Consulting Association (TCA) until it was raided and closed down in 2009.

Tomlinson - famous for his privacy work on behalf of celebrities and for co-founding the Hacked Off phone hacking campaign - made an application for a group litigation order (GLO), which would permit the four cases to be managed collectively.

The move is aimed at enabling hundreds of individuals affected by blacklisting to seek compensation through the courts from the contractors who engaged in the practice.

The application was approved by the High Court judge, with the case now set  return to court for a hearing in October, before proceeding to trial towards the end of the year.

Steve Acheson, lead claimant in the High Court trial and chairman of the Blacklist Support Group said the blacklisted workers bringing the action were “absolutely over the moon” at the outcome. “We’re completely overjoyed,” he added.

Contractor Sir Robert McAlpine has named 34 other construction firms as co-defendants to the action, including nine major contractors: Balfour Beatty; Bam; Carillion; Costain; Laing O’Rourke; Kier; Skanska; Vinci; and Amec.

The claimants accuse the firms of unlawful conspiracy, defamation, human rights violations and breaches of the Data Protection Act.

There are currently nearly 300 claimants in the High Court but with the GLO granted, unions say hundreds could be added.

Eight of the main contractors facing the court action last week launched a new compensation scheme for workers affected by blacklisting, which was criticised by unions for being launched without their backing.

The Scottish Affairs Select Committee, which has been investigating blacklisting in the construction industry, has previously said the compensation scheme should not be launched unilaterally.

The committee will next week hear evidence from unions and contractors about the compensation scheme.

Steve Murphy, general secretary of union UCATT, said: “Today was a green light in the battle for blacklisting justice.

“Over five years after the scandal was first revealed blacklisted victims are beginning to see justice in action.

“The companies involved in ruining workers lives are going to be forced to answer for their actions.”