Saturday 24 August 2019

RHA prepares for truck cartel hearing

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has published a legal notice ahead of a hearing by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) on 3-7 June, which will decide whether the trade body will be appointed class representative to proceed with its compensation claim against truck manufacturers following the cartel ruling of 2016.

The RHA says that more than 7,800 truck operators have signed up or registered to the cartel claim, which is seeking recompense for firms who paid artificially high prices for vehicles, following European Commission findings that a number of truck manufacturers had illegally fixed prices between 1997 and 2011.

The claim is estimated to be worth more than £1.5 billion – and fleet operators who have not yet signed up are being urged to do so by the RHA’s legal team.

The claim is open to any UK truck operator who purchased or leased a truck of six tonnes and over between January 1997 and the present day, says the RHA. It covers all makes of trucks, not just the major European ones. Both new and second-hand vehicles are covered.

The Collective Proceedings Order Application and Hearing Notice published last month invites interested parties to submit written comments on the RHA application, and also provides an opportunity to apply to make oral comments at the hearing. Those wishing to do either can apply in writing to the tribunal until 4pm on 12 April.

A competing application, brought by UK Trucks Claim Ltd (UKTC), is also covered by the notice – and the hearing in June will decide whether either or both of the claims can proceed.

The major difference between the two applications, says the notice, is that: “the RHA’s collective claim would require any claimant falling within the proposed class definition to positively opt in to the proceedings before they can be a part of the collective claim.

“By contrast, UKTC is seeking an order that would mean that all claimants falling within UKTC’s proposed class definition would automatically be part of UKTC’s collective claim unless they choose to opt out of the collective claim.

“If the tribunal is not prepared to make an ‘opt out’ order, then UKTC is also seeking an order to allow it to pursue an ‘opt in’ claim for its proposed class.”

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said he was confident that the association’s claim would be greenlit.

“The truck cartel operated for 14 years and it’s likely that its impact on truck prices continued even beyond that,” he said.

“We’re working tirelessly to ensure that truck operators who suffered as a result get the compensation they deserve.”

Steven Meyerhoff, a director at Backhouse Jones, who leads the RHA’s external legal team, said: “We are one step closer to having the CAT approve the RHA’s proposed collective claim against the truck manufacturers.

“If the RHA is successful in being appointed class representative, this will be the first case of its kind under the new regime and will mark an important shift towards ensuring that those who suffer financial harm at the hands of competition law infringers get the redress they deserve.”

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