Over the period of 14 years a spatially inclusive and comprehensive consolidation of truck fabricators determined the actual cash value of their products. The illegal collusion dates back to 1997 and is considered the biggest cartel in history. In 2011 the outrage was revealed by cartel member and whistleblower MAN.
After five tough years of investigation, the European Commission imposed a record fee in July 2016 against five cartel members (MAN, Daimler, DAF, IVECO and Volvo / Renault) amounting to 2.93 billion euros. Between 1997 and 2004, meetings were held at senior manager level, complemented by phone conversations. From 2004 onwards, the cartel was organised via the truck producers' German subsidiaries, with an electronic exchange of information. The case against Scania is not yet complete. But despite this sum seems intangible huge, it will be well beaten by compensation claims of those affected.
There are 30 million trucks on Europe's roads today. Three quarters of the goods transported on the mainland is handled by them, so the impact of the cartel is considerable. Not only market prices, but also the timing of the introduction of environmental technology innovations and the passing on of the associated costs to the customers had been arranged.
Every customer who has acquired or leased a new moderate (from 6 tons) or heavy truck (from 16 tons) during the period from 1997 to 2011 is aggrieved. The damage is estimated between 10-25% of the purchase price, which also applies to the leasing installments. In credit-financed contracts, the inflated prices naturally have an impact on the amount of interest.
Commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, said:
“We have today put down a marker by imposing record fines for a serious infringement. In all, there are over 30 million trucks on European roads, which account for around three quarters of inland transport of goods in Europe and play a vital role for the European economy. It is not acceptable that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF, which together account for around 9 out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks produced in Europe, were part of a cartel instead of competing with each other. For 14 years they colluded on the pricing and on passing on the costs for meeting environmental standards to customers. This is also a clear message to companies that cartels are not accepted.”
TCC – Truck Cartel Claims
Our law firm specializes in mass actions. With our team of attorneys, economists and IT specialists, we develop efficient solutions for the complex challenges of major damage cases. Our opponents include banks, insurance companies and global enterprises. For our clients, we have already been able to meet claims in two-digit millions. Our broad european network allows us to operate efficiently across borders.
Cartels cause damage
The misconduct of the manufacturer is out of question. It is also apparent that the truck cartel has caused a lot of damage in the freight forwarding and transport companies.
On this assumption, the Directive 2014/104/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26th November 2014 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union is based, which every member state has to implement by 27th December 2016 into national law. In this directive for the first time the conjecture is anchored that a cartel causes damage.
Damage at 10-25% of the purchase price or lease payments
Yet, the effective amount of damage remains unclear. A landmark feature for determining it, is the damage that had been caused by previous cartel cases. Thus, for example, in the cement cartel in 2003 a competitive economic report ascertained that the cement price was inflated by at least 10% due to illegal price fixing. The German Federal Cartel Office even goes further and considers that cartels cause average price increases of 25%. And, to distract a concern many marred companies are engaged with, this applies not for the list price, paid be only a few of those affected, but for the actual purchase price.
Legislators Help Victims
The Directive 2014/104/EU is a great convenience for the determination of the actual damage, since affected customers will no longer be required to prove the damage down to the last farthing. Instead, the judge has the ability to estimate the damage by reference to the proportionate profits.
Purchasers concerned will benefit significantly of these legal facilities.
„Private lawsuits against alleged colluders, long common in America, are catching on in Europe, encouraged by legal reforms. The EU’s antitrust-damages directive, which member states are to implement by the end of 2016, will make it easier for companies and citizens to bring claims for breaches of EU competition law in national courts.“
Bundling of interests
We think it is reasonable to bundle the claims of victims. In a coordinated, border-crossing approach, it is possible to achieve a counterbalance to the major corporations that have to be dealt with.
Experience derived from previous cartel cases has shown, that a consolidated, sophisticated action is much more auspicious than a single-handed approach.
Peaceful resolution as designated target
The aim of all proceedings should be a consensual solution that is peaceable for both parties. The matter requires management by perception and advanced negotiating skills. The claims have to be well prepared by a profound economic analysis. Due to the economic political sensitivity and the image damage suffered by the fabricators as a consequence of the cartel, the PR work figures prominently.
Enforcement in court
If an amicable solution fails, the transition to court becomes necessary. In this instance, the manufacturer will have to be prepared for a wave of litigation. Here too, a coordinated approach bears tremendous benefits. The more knowledge can be bundled, the harder it is for the manufacturers to offer opposition to the claims.
The forthcoming cases in Germany are currently being prepared, whilst in Ireland the first lawsuit has already been settled. Once the new Directive 2014/104/EU will be converted by every member state into national law on 27th December 2016, it will fire the starting pistol for all other suits.
Cartel truck companies
What has to be regarded
The first claims impend to be time-barred by the beginning of 2017. This applies to all trucks purchased or leased in the period between 1997 till 2002. Thereafter, the limitation period prolongs of for one year respectively. Those who acquired a truck in 2003, must reckon with a lapse of time on 1st January 2018, and so on. The extension of the actually only ten-year statute of limitation is owed to the five-year investigation (2011 – 2016) of the European Commission, which had a suspensive effect.
In older claims time is of the essence. Here the limitation period should definitely be inhibited again, what is achieved by legal proceedings. Thus, every customer should have examined his entitlement to indemnity.
Preserve business relations
Compliance and corporate image are of considerable importance to the leaders in the industry. The truck manufacturers will seek damage containment unsolicitous. Not only the customers trust has to be gained back. The chipped image also needs to be repaired, concerning the damage caused by media coverage.
Only an accumulation of interests will help the affected to break the resistance of the cartel. Frictions between direct business partners are avoided because the claims are directed to the manufactures and not to the merchants.
Utilizing antitrust law
Antitrust law facilitates the injured to assert their claims. The point of time for a change in antitrust law in Europe could not be more suitable for the defrauded customers. Just a few months after the biggest known cartel in history was debunked, many facilities for the enforcement of cartel claims are brought into force.
Free choice of the opponent
It all starts with the opponent. If a customer, for example, purchased a truck from the Italian producer Iveco, he is not obliged to sue the company in Italy but has the opportunity to arraign Mercedes in Untertürkheim, Germany (the company’s domicile). This is because every member of the cartel bears the same culpability for any damage caused by their illegitimate collaborative behavior. Thus, all producers are to be held responsible for the liability of each other.
Right of insight into the official files
Once the new Directive is inured, the inspection of records becomes a right that is due to all of those affected, what will help to comprehend the actual impact of the cartel. Until now, the preservation of the peculator’s business secrets was in the fore.
Burden of proof in favor of the injured party
Also, the reasoning of the damage will become facilitated. Enforcing the entitlement to indemnity must not be exaggerating hard for the party concerned. Combined with the judge’s ability to estimate the damage caused, this will hopefully extricate the victims of the commitment to pay an expensive competitive economic report before they are in the first place able to bring their case to the court.
We examine your documents, e.g. purchasing and leasing agreements, and preprocess the case for extrajudicial and judicial assertion. In a short evaluation, we determine the potential amount of your claim and compare the collected data with our database. Hereby, we can arrange your postulation market analytically and take advantage of our knowledge of cases of other interested parties.
- Validation of your documents
- Short estimation on the amount of your claim
- Alignment with our databases
- Pooling of preliminary findings
You decide how you want the enforcement of your claims to be financed. For this purpose we offer different models. There is the possibility of selling your claims as well as the engagement of a litigation funder. Of course, we can also take action on your behalf based on a flexible fee agreement.
In any case, you will have absolute cost transparency in every phase of the process.
- Choice of financing
- Factoring of claims
- Involvement of a litigation funder
- Cost transparency
Our primary goal is a fast and mutual solution. We act prudently and go to our opponents. We act prudently and make amicable compromises with our opponents. Keeping the business ties between the customers and the manufacturers in mind, we are convinced that a peaceable solution bears more benefits than a protracted law suit.
No one is interested in conducting interminable court proceedings, eroding the financial resources and binding manpower. Our aim is to mediate between business people and to find a result both parties can settle with. But in the end, we negotiate for you, videlicet as hard as cautious.
- Rapid and peaceful solutions
- Mediating instead of alienating
- Positive results through judicious negotiation
We are consistent in enforcing the rights of our clients. If an extrajudicial solution fails, we will enforce your claims in court. Our firm has experience of hundreds of lawsuits and is one of the top addresses for mass action against banks and insurance companies. Benefit from our expertise.
- Strict enforcement of claims in court
- Hundreds of successful court cases
- Specialized in mass cases