28. Nov 16

GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte: Assessing damages claims against truck cartel

Aggrieved parties to the truck cartel are entitled to claim damages. The law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte is reviewing the extent of these claims against the cartel members.

GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London conclude: Five truck manufacturers (Daimler, DAF, MAN, Iveco and Volvo/Renault) were found to have entered into illegal price-fixing agreements, among other things, between 1997 and 2011 and violated antitrust law. The European Commission then imposed a fine of almost three billion euros against the cartel members.

Now that the cartel members have accepted the European Commission’s fine, the way is clear for the aggrieved parties to the cartel to raise claims for damages. Those primarily affected are forwarders and transportation companies that purchased or leased medium- and heavy-duty trucks, i.e. trucks between 6 and 16 tons and heavier, between 1997 and 2011. They clearly paid too much. Experts estimate the damage resulting from the illegal cartel arrangements at more than 100 billion euros. The extent of the loss incurred by each aggrieved party needs to be accurately evaluated, it being impossible to make a blanket statement in this regard. Determining the actual amount of loss incurred must be done based on an expert assessment. Particularly in the case of smaller forwarders and transportation companies, it is a good idea to band together and share the costs for the assessment.

That being said, the aggrieved parties need to take action, as none of them will be awarded damages automatically. In order to assert their claims, they can turn to lawyers who are versed in the field of antitrust law.

Since the cartel members have already acknowledged the illegal agreements and accepted the Commission’s fine, it is to be expected that they will also have made provisions for damages claims brought by the aggrieved parties. Both sides are likely to be interested in reaching an out-of-court settlement as a way of avoiding a lengthy legal dispute. In the process of doing so, it is essential to obtain the assistance of a lawyer.

Having said all of that, any claims for damages ought to be asserted soon. Claims in relation to trucks that were acquired at the end of the 90s could lapse as early as January 2017, meaning that measures need to be taken to suspend the statute of limitations.

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