Litigators tackle European truck cartel

Truck cartel overcharged by as much as R163 000 per truck

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Bentham says it proposes to fund legal action on behalf of truck purchasers who are victims of the European truck cartel.

On 19 July 2016, the European Commission (the Commission) found that truck manufacturers MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF breached Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 53 of the EEA Agreement, which prohibits cartels and other restrictive business practices.

These truck manufacturers were found by the Commission to have colluded by manipulating truck prices for 14 years and by passing on to their customers the costs of compliance with stricter EU emission rules.

For these breaches, the Commission imposed a record fine of €2.93 billion (R45 billion). MAN avoided a fine by informing the commission of the cartel.

All the truck manufacturers have acknowledged their involvement in the truck cartel, except for Scania whose involvement remains under investigation.

“From 1997 to 2011 some of the largest truck manufacturers in Europe acted as a cartel to cheat customers.”

“The volume of truck sales covered by the European Commission is staggering – we estimate that around 10 million trucks were sold in the EU during the cartel period and that, within that number, and based on estimates of overcharges attributed to previous cartels, buyers of medium and heavy trucks were overcharged by an estimated €10,500 (R163 000) per truck, says Jeremy Marshall, chief investment officer at Bentham, referring to the enormity of the damage caused by the cartel.

“Bentham is determined to bring the opportunity to recover the overcharges to the attention of as many truck purchasers as it can and enable these victims of the cartel collectively to seek redress.

“Claims against the truck cartel are expected to be one of the largest ever compensation claims resulting from a cartel ruling,” he says.

The European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, said on 19 July:

“We have today put down a marker by imposing record fines for a serious infringement. In all, there are over 30 million trucks on European roads, which account for around three-quarters of inland transport of goods in Europe and play a vital role in the European economy.

“It is not acceptable that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF, which together account for around 9 out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks produced in Europe, were part of a truck cartel instead of competing.

“For 14 years, they colluded on the pricing and on passing on the costs for meeting environmental standards to customers. This is also a clear message to companies that cartels are not accepted,” she added.

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