The Road Haulage Association (RHA) is the only trade association dedicated to the UK road transport industry. With 7,000 members and a total truck fleet of 100,000 vehicles, the RHA campaigns for the logistics industry with governmental bodies. The RHA lobbies for change and support its members with a range of benefits. The RHA offers shop products, training, legal services and insurance to its members at the best possible rates. With 85% of everything bought or sold in the economy travelling on the back of a truck, the RHA keeps the UK economy moving. The RHA campaigns for better facilities for trucks and drivers, improved road building, safer roads, and the RHA is doing its bit to improve the environment too. The RHA is fully committed to safer, cleaner diesel vehicles. All operators regardless of their size are welcome to join the RHA and, because operators are too busy running a business, the RHA fights, lobbies, and campaigns for operators’ interests. To find out more about the RHA, please visit the RHA website.
The RHA recognises that the Truck Cartel is a key issue facing the road haulage sector at this time. Because of the serious abuse of competition rules by the truck manufacturers, operators will have been subject to higher costs in running their businesses for more than a decade. After careful consideration, the RHA announced in August 2016 to bring a group claim before the Competition Appeal Tribunal in London to secure compensation for any person or business that purchased or leased trucks between January 1997 and January 2011 (as well as for a certain period after January 2011 until prices returned to normal competitive levels). The European Commission’s decision in the Truck Cartel case will prove before the Competition Appeal Tribunal that the truck manufacturers are liable for a violation of the EU competition rules and it will therefore be necessary for the RHA to show that the Truck Cartel caused operators loss and the amount of that loss.
The RHA will not profit from the group claim. Operators will be able to “stand behind” the RHA, which will front the claim on behalf of operators. The RHA is well aware that truck operators need to have business dealings with the manufacturers after the claim and therefore will conduct the proceedings in a measured and constructive manner. The claim will be run as a collective claim, meaning that many claimants will claim together at the same time. This brings with it a number of advantages for the claimants, including costs savings and a stronger position from which to conduct negotiations.
Since announcing its decision in August 2016 to bring a group claim against the truck manufacturers, the RHA has been working hard to take the case forward. This includes (a) putting a legal team in place, (b) lining up an economic consultancy, (c) negotiating with a litigation funder who will pay to bring the case, (d) putting insurance in place in case the RHA is not successful, and (e) developing the case against the truck manufacturers.
The RHA has teamed up with Backhouse Jones, the leading law firm for the road haulage sector with significant litigation capability, to bring the group claim. Backhouse Jones has brought in expert competition law specialists from Exchange Chambers and Brick Court to advise on the claim. 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. For more details on the RHA’s legal team, please read this document.
The RHA has chosen a leading economic consultancy (Cornerstone Research) to assist with assessing the amount of compensation owed to operators because of the cartel.
The RHA has finalised a deal with Therium, a third-party funder, so that operators can sign up to the claim for compensation without needing to pay any of the costs of bringing the claim. The RHA has secured a very competitive deal. As you know, the RHA does not itself intend to profit from bringing this claim, which means that a greater amount of the compensation will go to operators.
The RHA in bringing the claim for compensation on behalf of operators will be putting itself at risk of having to pay defendants’ costs if the case is lost. It is important to remember in this context, however, that liability has been established against the truck manufacturers by the European Commission’s decision and this already significantly minimises the risk. There are limited circumstances in which operators also might be ordered to pay costs where issues arising in the litigation apply only to an individual operator. The RHA has nevertheless taken significant steps to protect itself and you from needing to pay any costs by obtaining insurance cover for itself and you so that, if the case is lost, it will be the insurers who pay the other side’s costs up to the level of the amount insured. Operators signing up to the RHA’s case will not need to pay anything upfront for the insurance cover.
The RHA and its legal team have been carrying out significant due diligence through meetings with operators and business people with knowledge of the sector. As a result, the RHA has gained unrivalled industry insight as to how the cartel operated and has formed a robust view as to the shape of the case and what impact the cartel had on truck prices.