Help at hand for those affected by EU truck cartel ruling

Article date: 17/05/2017

In July 2016 a ruling by the European Commission found that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco, and DAF broke EU competition rules.  The ruling found that the truck makers concerned, colluded for 14 years on truck pricing and on passing on the costs of compliance with stricter emission rules - in short that they operated an illegal cartel. 

Collectively, the five organisations were fined a record sum of €2.9 billion.  All companies acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case.   

Matt Dudley, a Partner in Higgs & Sons' Dispute Resolution team, explains:

"The infringement covered the entire EEA and lasted for 14 years, from 1997 until 2011, when the Commission carried out unannounced inspections of the firms.

"The EU Commission's findings relate specifically to the market for the manufacturing of medium trucks (weighing between 6 to 16 tons) and heavy trucks (weighing over 16 tons). The manufacturers involved represent around 90% of all medium and heavy trucks sold in Europe."

As a result of the ruling and the Commission's report, Higgs & Sons is looking to take forward claims for damages by those affected, whether collectively or on an individual basis. 

"Any person or business affected by anti-competitive behaviour may seek damages," continues Matt. "In cases before national courts, a Commission decision constitutes binding proof that the behaviour took place and was illegal.  Even though the Commission has fined the companies concerned, damages may be awarded without being reduced on account of the Commission fine.

"A lot of work has already been undertaken by expert economists regarding the financial effects of the cartel.  We understand that the average overcharge to customers resulting from the operation of the cartel is likely to have been significant."

The firm is currently canvassing its existing clients and contacts to determine the level of interest.

"The early signs are positive. We anticipate receiving a good degree of interest based on the number of clients we act for, and clients of our professional contacts, who will have acquired trucks manufactured by either MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco, and DAF during the period in question whether first hand or second hand, direct from dealers or otherwise, and whether outright or via finance companies.

"We're still at an early stage of considering key issues such as viability, funding and risk.  We recognise that in order to present an attractive proposition, claims will need to be funded without material risk to clients.  We have received very positive feedback from a funding broker in this regard.

"We are aware of others who are approaching businesses, but this is to be expected given the scale of the anti-competitive behaviour and the number of businesses likely to have been affected.  We believe that many of our clients will prefer us to act for them in pursuing claims for compensation.  They know they can trust us to act in line with their best interests." 

If you would like to know more about making a claim for damages, please contact us at truckcartel@higgsandsons.co.uk.   

In conclusion Matt states: "If you would like to find out more about taking forward a claim for compensation, we would just ask you to complete a simple Registration of Interest form in the first instance so that we can make an effective and speedy evaluation of your claim." 

Click here to download a Registration of Interest form.