The U.K.’s Competition Appeal Tribunal has allowed a claimant to proceed with a £2 billion collective action against multiple major truck manufacturers in relation to the pan-European price-fixing cartel.
The CAT said that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) can bring a claim on behalf of the U.K. road haulage industry, which numbers around 18,000 claimants, against truck manufacturers DAF, Iveco and MAN, according to a statement by the association.
DAF, Iveco and MAN are being represented by Travers Smith, Herbert Smith Freehills, and Slaughter and May respectively, according to the CAT’s judgment.
This is the first time the CAT has allowed an application for a collective proceedings order on an “opt-in” basis, according to one of the lawyers involved.
The RHA will shortly be inviting any other qualifying operators to join the claim, it said.
The claim arises out of a European Commission decision in 2016 which found that five major European truck manufacturing groups—DAF, Daimler, Iveco, Volvo/Renault and MAN—had exchanged information on future gross prices and colluded on the timing and passing on of costs of the introduction of emission technologies, over a 14 year period between 1997 and 2011.
The European Commission has previously stated that it believes that “nine out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks sold in Europe” were affected by the price-fixing cartel.
Steven Meyerhoff, director at Backhouse Jones, legal representatives for the RHA, said: “Today’s decision by the CAT to certify the RHA’s application for a collective proceedings order is a comprehensive endorsement of a well thought out “opt-in” application and a major step forward for road haulage operators seeking legal redress in respect of losses resulting from the trucks cartel.”
Addleshaw Goddard is also acting for the RHA, with partner Mark Molyneux commenting: “This long running and wide ranging cartel has affected around 600,000 new purchasers of trucks in the UK between 1997 and 2011. We know cartel activity can be extremely damaging to customers and truck purchasers should be entitled to be compensated for all of the loss that they have a suffered as a result of this activity.”
According to the judgment, RHA has brought in litigation funder Therium, which could receive between 5% and 30% of any damages recovered.
A rival application for a collective proceedings order on an opt-out basis brought by U.K. Trucks Limited (UKTC) was rejected by the Tribunal. The UKTC application was brought against Iveco and Daimler. Daimler was most recently advised by Macfarlanes.
Weightmans, representing UKTC, said in a statement: “We are considering the judgment and advising our client regarding a potential appeal and as a result we are unable to comment further at this time.”
Travers and HSF did not respond to requests for comment.
Slaughters and Macfarlanes declined to comment.