The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has announced it is to take funded legal action for compensation against truck manufacturers on behalf of both RHA members and non-members, following the European Commission’s (EC) imposition last year of a record fine of more than €2.9 billion on several of the major truck producers for breaking EU antitrust rules.
The fine was levied after the EC found that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), Iveco and DAF had: “colluded for 14 years on truck pricing and on passing on the costs of compliance with stricter emission rules.”
In addition to those marques, the RHA says it currently plans to include Scania trucks in the case from the outset – adding that the EC was continuing its investigation against the company, which was not covered by the Commission’s settlement decision last year.
The association intends to bring the compensation claim before the Competition Appeals Tribunal – and says that, if successful, haulage and logistics firms that sign up to the process will get money back for vehicles sold or leased to them at inflated prices as a result of the cartel.
Early indications are that average compensation could be in the region of £6,000 per truck purchased between 1997 and 2011, the RHA says.
“All UK truck owners can join the group legal action at www.truckcartellegalaction.com. There will be no cost for hauliers to be part of the group claim,” said the association.
“Companies that have purchased or leased new or second-hand trucks direct from manufacturers (including Scania) or dealers from 1997 onwards are eligible to join the claim.
“During the period the cartel operated we believe around 650,000 new trucks were sold. Although this legal action is being spearheaded by the RHA, non-RHA members are able to join.”
RHA chief executive Richard Burnett added: “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 Ltd 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.”
On behalf of the legal team, David Went of Exchange Chambers added: “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.”