27. Mar 17

Truck cartel: First damages claims to prescribe could do so as early as 2017

Those affected by the truck cartel are entitled to claim damages, but the limitation periods need to be observed. The first claims to become time-barred could do so as early as January of 2017.

GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London conclude: Over a period of 14 years between 1997 and 2011, the truck manufacturers Daimler, MAN, Iveco, DAF and Volvo/Renault illegally fixed prices, among other things, resulting most notably in forwarders and transportation companies incurring extensive financial losses.

The European Commission imposed a fine in the amount of almost three billion euros for this violation of antitrust law. What’s more significant from the perspective of buyers and lessees which procured trucks during this timeframe from the truck manufacturers in question is that they are entitled to damages. Following the European Commission’s decision, the way is now clear for damages claims. While it is no longer necessary to adduce evidence in relation to the violations, claims do need to be actively asserted. Those that purchased or leased the trucks can turn to lawyers who are versed in the field of antitrust law to enforce their claims.

That being said, limitation periods have to be observed to prevent the claims from lapsing. The first claims to prescribe could do so as early as January of 2017. Since 2002, a maximum limitation period of ten years has been in force. As a result of the European Commission’s investigations, the limitation period was suspended. The suspension of the statute of limitations is likely to come to an end in January of 2017. This means that damages claims in relation to trucks purchased or leased between 1997 and 2001 could shortly become time-barred. Claims for trucks purchased in 2002 could prescribe in July of 2017. For this reason, action ought to be taken immediately in these cases to prevent the claims from lapsing. For trucks that were procured in 2003, the statute of limitations for damages claims is thus likely to kick in in the summer of 2018. This is the way in which limitation periods gradually progress.

Apart from bringing a civil action, it might also be possible to reach an out-of-court settlement with the cartel members. The truck manufacturers in question are aware that they could be faced with damages claims and have therefore presumably made provisions for these cases. Should it prove impossible to arrive at an agreement, the claims can also be enforced before the courts.

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