03. Jan 17

Truck cartel: Be mindful of statute of limitations for damages claims

The parties to the truck cartel illegally fixed prices, among other things, over a period of 14 years. Those who have suffered because of the cartel can assert claims for damages.

GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London conclude: Between 1997 and 2011, the truck manufacturers Daimler, Iveco, DAF, MAN and Volvo/Renault illegally fixed prices for their trucks, among other things. The European Commission has already imposed fines on them totalling almost three billion euros for violating antitrust law.

The clients that have suffered as a result of the truck cartel are those which purchased or leased a truck with a weight of six tons or more from one of the cartelists during this period. Following the European Commission’s decision, the aggrieved parties are now entitled to claim damages. While it is no longer necessary to prove that an infringement occurred, damages claims need to be actively asserted. To this end, those concerned can turn to lawyers who are versed in the field of antitrust law.

It is not possible to produce a general number regarding the exact amount of any damages. The damage suffered can, however, be expected to amount to around 15 per cent of the purchase price, with it being possible to factor in interest and, where applicable, unrealised profits as well. It is clear from this that the sums of money associated with a forwarder or transportations company’s claims for damages could be enormous.

The cartelists are very likely to be aware of the enormous scale of damages claims they might soon be faced with and will presumably have made provisions for this purpose. As such, it may also be possible to arrive at an out-of-court settlement with the truck manufacturers. If this turns out not to be the case, the claims can be enforced through the courts.

To this end, it is important to keep an eye on the statutes of limitations. In principle, the limitation period cannot exceed ten years. Having said that, this does not mean that it is no longer possible to assert claims in relation to trucks that were procured between 1997 and 2005. As a result of the European Commission’s investigations spanning roughly five years, the statute of limitations has been suspended for the time being. Notwithstanding this, the statute of limitations could kick in as early as mid-January of 2017 for trucks bought between 1997 and 2001. In these cases, measures ought to be taken swiftly to suspend the statute of limitations.

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