04. Jan 17

Damages claims against truck cartel: Be mindful of statute of limitations

In light of the European Commission’s ruling, those that have suffered as a result of the truck cartel are now able to claim damages. That being said, it is important for them to not lose sight of the statute of limitations.

GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London conclude: It has been established that the five big truck manufacturers Daimler, MAN, Iveco, DAF and Volvo/Renault violated antitrust law over a period of 14 years by illegally fixing prices, among other things. For this reason, the European Commission has already imposed a record fine of almost three billion euros. In doing so, the Commission also paved the way for civil damages claims. With it no longer being necessary to prove that violations occurred, these claims will primarily deal with the extent of any damages. Due to the fact that the truck cartel made illegal arrangements over a long period of time (from 1997 to 2011), the resulting loss is likely to be immense for many of those that purchased or leased trucks. They can turn to lawyers who are versed in the field of antitrust law to enforce their claims.

Even though the path is clear to assert claims for damages, it is vital not to lose track of the statute of limitations. As of 2002, damages claims cannot as a matter of principle be subject to a limitation period that exceeds ten years. Notwithstanding this, the statute of limitations has been suspended for the time being following the investigations conducted by the European Commission that began in 2011 and concluded in 2016. However, the first claims to prescribe may do so in January 2017. This concerns trucks that were procured between 1997 and 2001.

In the case of vehicles that were acquired from 2002, the suspension of the statute of limitations needs to be taken into account. The Commission’s investigations lasted five years. The suspension of the statute of limitations remains effective for six more months following the conclusion of the investigations. This means that claims in relation to trucks purchased in 2002 are likely to expire in the summer of 2017, whereas this will occur during the summer of 2018 for those relating to trucks bought in 2003. This is how the limitation periods are successively carried forward.

Forwarders, transportation companies and others that purchased trucks therefore need to act quickly if they wish to claim the maximum compensation for the loss they suffered resulting from the truck cartel. Measures certainly need to be put in place now to suspend the statute of limitations for older trucks.

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