The Advocate General (AG) has advised the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that refuse collection trucks, and other specialised vehicles, would have been included in the trucks cartel.
Readers will recall that the original decision of the European Commission (EC) in 2016, which imposed the fines on truck manufacturers for breach of competition rules (and on which the Road Haulage Association’s collective proceedings application is based), stated that the products affected by the infringement were medium and heavy trucks, whether rigid or tractor units and explicitly excluded only trucks for military use.
Following a dispute as to whether or not refuse collection trucks were covered by the EC decision in a claim brought in Germany against Daimler, the Court referred the matter to the ECJ.
On 24 February 2022, the AG, Laila Medina advised that the scope of the EC decision includes refuse vehicles and other specialised vehicles and that the only exclusion is military trucks as expressly stated in the EC decision. The AG’s reasoning was that, if the EC wanted to exclude further types of vehicles, it would have also mentioned that explicitly in the decision, but there is nothing in the EC decision that would suggest that refuse collection trucks were not part of the cartel.
The fact that a refuse collection truck may contain components different from those of trucks intended for a different use does not mean that it is no longer covered by the decision. The fact is, the AG said, the majority of the characteristics and components of refuse collection trucks are, in principle, identical to those of other types of trucks.
The EC decision stated that manufacturers exchanged gross price lists and computerised truck configurators containing all models and options, which made it possible to calculate gross prices for any truck pattern, according to the AG. It was said that optional extras and configurations would also have been part of the cartel.
Based on this opinion, it appears that other specialised trucks, such as concrete mixing trucks, tipper chassis and flatbed chassis (but not military vehicles) will have been among the vehicles affected by the trucks cartel.
Welcoming the opinion, Steven Meyerhoff who represents the Road Haulage Association in their proposed collective action against the truck manufacturers said “We are pleased with the opinion of the Advocate General and hope that it is adopted by the ECJ in due course. It reflects our belief and understanding that the fundamental components that make up the various types of vehicles are the same hence why operators of refuse and other specialist vehicles (only with the exception of military vehicles) are permitted to join the RHA’s proposed action.”