We have received correspondence from the Road Haulage Association (RHA) in relation to a group claim being brought by the RHA for compensation against the EU Truck Cartel. Truck operators who have purchased or leased trucks since 1997 stand to receive over £5,500 per truck back in compensation depending on the size of the truck and when it was purchased or leased. Truck operators do not need to be an RHA member to join over 2,000 other operators already signed up to the RHA’s group claim.
As you may be aware, the European Commission last July fined five European truck manufacturers (MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler/Mercedes, Iveco and DAF) almost £2.6 billion – the highest fine ever imposed by the Commission. The manufacturers – at their own admission – were part of a cartel from 1997 to 2011, with senior managers involved at HQ level. The manufacturers fixed gross (and sometimes net) list prices, agreed the cost that truck purchasers should be charged for emissions technologies (Euro 3, 4, 5, and 6), and delayed the introduction of the emissions technologies. The cartel was a serious violation of EU competition rules and the European Commission’s decision will prove liability before the UK courts.
Scania chose not to settle the case with the Commission but was subsequently fined €880 million in September this year.
As the trade association within the UK dedicated to the road haulage sector, the RHA announced in August 2016 its intention to bring a group claim for compensation before the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). The claim will cover new and second-hand trucks from 6 tonnes upwards, regardless of whether they were purchased outright, purchased on finance or leased. The cartel operated from January 1997 to January 2011 but the claim is likely to extend beyond January 2011 until prices returned to competitive levels. The RHA will represent large and small operators and will be able to tailor the claim depending on the operator’s size.
The RHA has now put in place third-party funding on very competitive terms so that truck operators signing up to the claim do not need to pay anything. Truck operators signing up will also benefit from a significant insurance policy – one of the largest ever placed – in case the claims are not ultimately successful.
Assuming large numbers of operators sign up to the RHA’s group claim – over 2,000 operators have already signed up with over 600 interested in joining – and the level of damages is in line with current thinking, truck purchasers will retain 91% or more of the damages owed to them. This means for example, that if damages were awarded at the level of £6,000 per truck, operators would obtain £5,640 or more per truck. If the case settles early, there is a further discount on the percentage return to the funder, resulting in an increased amount recovered to operators. These figures are illustrative and the ultimate level of return to operators will depend on the overall level of compensation awarded across the group.
The RHA does not intend to profit from acting as representative, thereby maximising the level of compensation that will be returned to those affected by the cartel.
The RHA has appointed a first-rate legal team to work on this matter. It comprises Backhouse Jones, the UK’s leading transport law firm, and specialist competition law barristers from Brick Court Chambers in London and Exchange Chambers in Manchester. The legal team have worked on competition matters for organisations such as the FIA (regulatory body for Formula 1), FIFA, Google, GSK, Samsung, Sky and UEFA. A leading economic consultancy (Cornerstone Research) has also been retained.
More details about the RHA’s group claim can be found on its dedicated website at: www.truckcartellegalaction.com. This website also contains answers to the most frequently asked questions. It is worth repeating that operators do not need to be RHA members to join the claim.