In a series of recent legal developments, truck manufacturers involved in price-fixing cartels have been held accountable for damages across Portugal, Spain, and the UK, signalling a shift towards greater industry transparency and fair competition. Carriers impacted by the anti-competitive practices have achieved notable victories in the court, demonstrating the growing determination to challenge these unfair business practices.
As legal actions continue to unfold, the industry is likely to witness a transformative shift in business practices, leading to more ethical and competitive operations in the truck manufacturing sector.
In Portugal, the Competition, Regulation and Supervision Court in Santarém ruled in favour of Transfrugal – Transportes de Frutas de Portugal. DAF Trucks was ordered to pay Transfrugal €12,904 plus interest for violating competition law by selling a truck at 15.4% above market value. This ruling highlights the successful efforts of damaged parties to get compensation for the overpriced vehicles.
Similarly, in Spain, a court in Valencia ruled that the TRATON Group, owner of MAN trucks, must reimburse a carrier 20.21% of the purchase price of four trucks bought in 2005, plus interest, for artificially raising prices. This ruling is among the most favourable for carriers in the ongoing price-fixing case involving truck manufacturers.
Notably, it is unfortunate that there are still thousands of claimants who have yet to receive compensation for their claims. The underlying cause of this issue often stems from the lack of sufficient evidence to validate certain claims.
In the UK, the Competition Appeal Tribunal awarded Royal Mail and BT approximately £17.5 million in damages against DAF Trucks in the latest legal action concerning the pan-European trucks cartel scandal. This decision marks the UK’s first successful follow-on damages claim against an EU truck cartel participant. DAF Trucks is among several companies facing a £2 billion collective action regarding the pan-European price-fixing cartel, with the Competition Appeal Tribunal green-lighting a claim by the Road Haulage Association on behalf of around 18,000 UK road haulage industry claimants last year.
However, the UK’s litigation funding industry faces potential challenges as truck manufacturer DAF appeals funding agreements in a case brought against them. If granted, this appeal could pose a threat to the UK’s collective proceedings regime, potentially limiting access to justice for claimants who rely on litigation funding.
In contrast, truck cartel members in Norway have successfully fended off the first follow-on claim brought against them. The Oslo District Court ruled in favour of the defendants, stating that the claimant failed to present a counterfactual analysis to support their case.
The Norwegian postal operator sought €79.5 million in damages from members of the EU truck cartel, alleging that they had suffered financial losses due to the cartel’s anti-competitive practices.
In the absence of counterfactual analysis, the court was unable to determine the true extent of damages the Norwegian postal operator may have incurred. As a result, the claim was dismissed, marking a victory for the truck cartel members.
These recent developments signal a growing trend towards holding truck manufacturers responsible for price-fixing activities and promoting fair competition within the industry. Simultaneously, they underscore the necessity for claimants to present comprehensive and meticulously supported arguments when seeking compensation for damages related to anti-competitive behaviour.
In a ground-breaking legal development, LitFin is financing the truck cartel lawsuit in the Netherlands and Germany, representing thousands of clients adversely affected by the alleged cartel activities.