05. Dec 16

Truck cartel: Take action and demand compensation

Five truck manufacturers illegally fixed the prices of vehicles, among other things, over a period of 14 years. The financial loss incurred by forwarders and other transportation companies is enormous.

GRP Rainer Lawyers and Tax Advisors in Cologne, Berlin, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and London conclude: The five major truck manufacturers (Daimler, MAN, Iveco, DAF and Volvo/Renault) operated a cartel over 14 years and fixed, among other things, the sales prices for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, i.e. trucks between 6 and 16 tons and heavier. They have since been convicted by the European Commission and sentenced to pay a fine totalling around 2.9 billion euros.

While this is a record fine, the damage caused by the cartel members is likely to be much higher than that. Estimates in the range of 100 billion euros do not appear to be excessive. Affected forwarders and transportation companies which purchased or leased trucks from these manufacturers between 1997 and 2011 are now able to assert claims for damages. The investigations carried out by the European Commission established that there was a cartel. Nonetheless, the aggrieved parties that purchased or leased trucks need to take action themselves. They will not automatically receive compensation. For the purposes of enforcing their claims, they can turn to lawyers who are versed in the field of antitrust law.

The focus here is the extent of the loss resulting from the illegal price fixing. One cannot give a general answer to this, which is why an expert assessment must be furnished. This presumably will not be necessary for every individual truck. To ensure that the costs for the expert assessment stay within reasonable limits, it is particularly a good idea for smaller forwarders and transportation companies to band together.

Another relevant issue with respect to the claims concerns the statute of limitations. A general ceiling for limitation periods of ten years has been in place since 2002. However, the statute of limitations was suspended due to the Commission’s investigation, with the result that it remains possible to assert damages claims even in relation to trucks which were acquired at the end of the 90s. That being said, the first claims could become time-barred in January of 2017. It is thus especially important to act quickly in these cases.

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