Wednesday, June 14, 2017

European Truck Cartel to be Hit with Multi Billion Pound Class Action by Road Haulage Group

All Hauliers Affected Can Join Court Case Against Major Makers Free of Charge
Shipping News Feature
UK – EUROPE – The antitrust case against European truck makers which formed a cartel to keep prices high and collude on emissions technologies has reached the next stage with the UK's Road Haulage Association (RHA) going ahead with its plans to sue the accused companies in a private class action, something which could amount to a considerable sum after the manufacturers received fines from the European Commission (EC) amounting to several billion euros. All truck operators, whether RHA members or not, and even in businesses unrelated to the carriage of road freight, which have purchased or leased new or second-hand trucks direct from manufacturers or dealers over a 14 year period from 1997 onwards are eligible to join the claim.

The RHA says early indications are that compensation could be in the region of £6,000 per truck on average which, with an estimated 650,000 trucks sold during the period in which the cartel operated, will mean some anguish in the boardrooms of those already heavily penalised. For their antitrust activities the EC fined MAN, Volvo Group (which includes Volvo Trucks and Renault Truck) Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, Iveco and DAF close to €3 billion (£2.6 billion) for price fixing and other cartel activities between 1997 and 2011 and the RHA action will also apply to Scania trucks which is owned by VW and MAN.

As we reported previously the other concern will be the degree to which the collusion affected emissions tests on vehicles granted the various European standards up to and including Euro VI had on the hauliers who were duped. It is not known if there was an actual falsification or manipulation of results, as with the recent VW scandal, but the companies are known to have colluded on the release dates of their respective emissions systems, seemingly since even before the introduction of Euro III.

The RHA compensation claim will be brought before the Competition Appeals Tribunal in London. If successful, haulage and logistics companies which sign up to the claim will get money back for vehicles sold or leased to them at inflated prices in the 14 year period from 1997. Backhouse Jones, solicitors, and barristers from Exchange Chambers and Brick Court will lead the claim. The group legal action is being funded by litigation funder Therium Capital Management Limited, who will cover the costs, including significant insurance cover. The RHA says it has therefore carefully organised the claim so as to avoid any cost or risk to hauliers joining the legal action. David Went of Exchange Chambers said:

“We are taking this case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal as it is the specialist court in the UK that deals with these types of claims and is an effective way to see redress for operators. The initial stage involves asking the Tribunal to authorise the RHA to act as industry representative and to set out the basis on which operators can opt into the claim. The first hearing is expected to be later this year.”

Any operator who wishes to take part in the claim can do so from this RHA link. RHA chief executive Richard Burnett commented:

“UK truck owners affected by the truck cartel have potentially paid too much for their lorries over a 14 year period and we’re determined to get a fair deal for them. This is a chance to get their compensation with no risk to their business or finances. As the representative body with sole responsibility for UK road freight operators, we are duty-bound to act on behalf of our members’ wishes. They have made it clear that they feel angry about the truck pricing cartel and want us to represent them.

”Our legal team at Backhouse Jones, Exchange Chambers and Brick Court will seek the best compensation deal that we can on behalf of our members and other UK victims of this cartel. To ensure that as many affected hauliers are able to join the claim, we have secured funding from Therium Capital Management Limited and the largest tranche of After The Event insurance that’s ever been underwritten so there’s no cost to joining the claim, or any other risks if the claim is unsuccessful.”