Why should my business claim?

The European truck manufacturers (MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler/Mercedes, Iveco, DAF, and Scania) have been found guilty of a serious abuse of EU competition rules and all but Scania admitted their guilt. Over a 14-year period, the manufacturers at senior manager level fixed prices, agreed the cost that truck purchasers should be charged for emissions technologies (Euro 3, 4, 5, and 6), and delayed the introduction of emissions technologies. For more details, please click here.

We believe that you paid too much for trucks you purchased or leased during the cartel and for a period afterwards and that you are entitled to be compensated for the overcharges imposed by the truck manufacturers. The European Commission fining decision will prove the manufacturers’ liability before the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

How much is my business owed?

The RHA has limited information available about the value of the claim at the moment.  This is because the cartel operated in secret and only limited details have been published by the European Commission so far. The RHA will nevertheless be seeking to recover the difference between the price the trucks should have cost in a competitive market as compared with the cartel prices, as well as any other increases in road haulage operators’ costs – for example in relation to fuel – resulting from the cartel activities.

In the individual claims brought by Royal Mail and BT against DAF, the Competition Appeal Tribunal has already determined that the level of overcharge amounted to 5% of the cost of each new truck. Although the evidence to be presented in the RHA collective claim will not necessarily show the same level of overcharge – it might be lower or higher – it does indicate that haulage operators are owed significant sums as a result of the cartel. Also, the interest element of the Royal Mail claim doubled the damages owed by DAF, while the interest element of the BT claim increased it by 1.5 times.

What can my business claim for?

  • All brands of truck, including DAF, Daimler/Mercedes, Iveco, MAN, Renault, Scania, and Volvo

  • New trucks purchased (either outright or on finance) or leased between 17 January 1997 and 31 January 2014

  • Second-hand trucks purchased (either outright or on finance) or leased between 17 January 1997 and 31 January 2015.

  • However, because the cartel operated between 17 January 1997 and 18 January 2011, it is possible that you will not have a viable claim for the additional period of time beyond 18 January 2011 (known as the “run-off period”), or that the run-off period will be shorter. This will be determined in the legal claim.

  • Trucks of 6 tonnes and over registered in the United Kingdom

  • Any additional costs incurred by operators of such trucks through the coordinated delay to the introduction of successive Euro emissions technologies
  • Interest on the claim

Who can join the RHA’s collective claim?

Any firm, company, or individual who entered into a contract for the purchase or lease of a new truck between 17 January 1997 and 31 January 2014, or for the purchase or lease of a used truck between 17 January 1997 and 31 January 2015,provided the truck was registered in the UK for road haulage operations (both hire and reward and own-account).

You do not need to be an RHA member to join the claim.

Personal representatives of the estate of any person falling within the class who died on or after 18 July 2018 can also sign up.

Note that you cannot join the RHA’s claim if you are already bringing legal action against the truck manufacturers in relation to the cartel unless you discontinue or apply to stay those proceedings.

Note also that you cannot join if your business provided road haulage services exclusively on a cost-plus (or “open book”) basis where the customer of the haulage services paid in full for the cost of the trucks used to provide the service and that customer could inspect your books. Similarly, any truck that was used for road haulage services provided on a cost-plus basis cannot be included within the RHA’s proceedings.  Also, if you were the recipient of road haulage services provided on a cost-plus basis and paid for the cost of the trucks used to provide those services, you will not be able to claim within the RHA’s proceedings for the cost of such trucks.

You cannot claim on behalf of any person who died before 17 July 2018 or for a legal entity that has been dissolved for a continuous period of more than 6 years since 17 January 1997 (unless the right of action by that legal entity was transferred to another legal entity which does exist).

You also cannot join the RHA’s collective claim if you purchased or leased trucks as a consumer (e.g., for transporting horses).  For more information, please contact Backhouse Jones on 08450 30 50 30.

What are the benefits of joining the RHA’s claim?

There are real benefits in joining the RHA’s group claim, including:

  • The Competition Appeal authorised the RHA to bring the only collective claim on behalf of the UK road haulage industry
  • The RHA is highly respected within industry – its significant clout and power may help to reach settlement
  • Claimants can “stand behind” the RHA which is fronting the legal case
  • The RHA is acutely aware that operators will continue to have business dealings with truck manufacturers after the claim and will conduct proceedings in a measured and constructive manner
  • Operators (many of which are small or micro businesses) cannot afford to take action on their own
  • The RHA has secured third-party litigation funding on very competitive terms and so there is no cost to operators in signing up
  • The RHA has appointed a first-rate legal team who have worked for organisations such as FIA, FIFA, Google, GSK, Samsung, Sky, and UEFA
  • The RHA has put in place multi-million pound insurance in case the claim is lost – the insurance protects the RHA and the individual operators
  • The RHA will not profit from acting as representative, maximising compensation returned to operators

How long will the case take?

While it could take several years for the case to conclude, there will be every opportunity as the RHA presents the case to the truck manufacturers for settlement to be earlier.

Claims relate to new and used trucks

The collective legal claim relates to the purchase of both new and used trucks given that the cartel may have had an impact of the prices of both of these. Assuming that the cartel did have an impact on the prices of new and used trucks, road haulage operators will have lost out through paying higher prices when purchasing new trucks but might on the other hand have achieved higher prices when it came to selling those trucks on. While all members of the collective claim will share a common interest in establishing that there was an overcharge in the sale of new trucks at as high a level as possible, there is potentially an underlying divergence of interest between purchasers of new trucks and purchasers of used trucks. The impact of the cartel on the prices of new and used trucks and the relationship between the two will be a matter of expert evidence in due course and the Tribunal will ultimately determine the matter (unless the case settles before final judgment). It is important to note that, in agreeing to be part of the RHA’s collective claim, you agree to accept the determination of the RHA, following expert advice, not only as to how the impact of the cartel on the prices of new and used trucks should be presented to the Tribunal but also as to the appropriate relationship between new and used truck prices in any settlement discussions.

EU truck manufacturers fined €3.4 billion

The fines imposed in July 2016 and on Scania in September 2017 are the highest fines by far ever imposed by the European Commission for a single violation of competition rules. The manufacturers were party to a cartel from 1997 to 2011, with senior managers involved at HQ level. The manufacturers engaged in various coordinated practices, including:

  • Aligning their gross list prices at the start of the cartel
  • Increasing gross (and sometimes net) list prices
  • Agreeing the cost that truck purchasers should be charged for emissions technologies (Euro 3, 4, 5, and 6)
  • Delaying the introduction of the emissions technologies

For more details about the cartel and the European Commission’s findings, please read this document.

No cost or risk to you even if case unsuccessful

The RHA is structuring its claim so that there should be no risk for you or other operators in joining the claim and nothing to pay even if the case is unsuccessful.

The European Commission fined the companies as follows:

  • Daimler/Mercedes – €1 billion
  • Scania – €880 million
  • DAF – €752 million
  • Volvo/Renault – €670 million
  • Iveco – €495 million
  • MAN – fine of €1.2 billion reduced to zero as immunity applicant

The European Commission decisions prove liability before UK courts. To obtain compensation, it will be necessary for the RHA to evidence that the Truck Cartel caused hauliers loss and the amount of loss.