So the big story this month has to be the news that the European Commission has imposed a fine of over €2.9 billion on MAN, Daimler, Iveco, DAF and Volvo/Renault for participating in a cartel concerning medium and heavy trucks "with the decision on Scania not yet made".
The cartel operated for 14 years (1997-‐2011) and the companies illegally cooperated on a number of points, the principal one being increasing the prices of medium and heavy trucks at Gross List (Factory Price).
The companies concerned all acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case, with the Commission, in exchange for a 10% reduction of the fine.
What does this mean to us as the end users?
Well if your company purchased and/or leased medium or heavy trucks from one of the named producers between 1997 and 2011, you may be entitled to claim damages and interest resulting from the overcharge.
AVRO & CMG, have made preliminary investigations into the claim process and have engaged with a leading law firm, RPC (www.rpc.co.uk) who specialise in competition and cartel cases.
Fees have been discussed and RPC have agreed to look at working on a contingent basis, therefore there would be no up-‐front cost to us as the claimants.
To make this work for everyone we need as many firms as possible to join the fight.
No legal obligation arises from registering your interest.
We look forward to you registering your support.
The more registered the stronger our fight.
Medium and heavy trucks cartel: recovery of overcharges
The European Commission has imposed a fine of over €2.9 billion on MAN, Daimler, Iveco, DAF and Volvo/Renault for participating in a cartel concerning medium and heavy trucks.
Companies that purchased such trucks directly or indirectly from any of these manufacturers may be entitled to claim damages in the courts.
B. The Decision
On 19 July 2016 the European Commission announced it had adopted a decision imposing fines on leading truck producers for their participation in a cartel concerning medium and heavy trucks. The fines were imposed as part of a settlement following an investigation initiated when MAN revealed the existence of the cartel.
The cartel operated for 14 years (1997 – 2011) and involved a number of major manufacturers. Between them these manufactures represent around 90% of medium and heavy trucks sold in Europe. Investigations are continuing in relation to the same cartel in respect of Scania, which is not part of the current settlement. This decision establishes the manufacturers' liability for infringing competition law for the purpose of pursuing a damages claim in the courts. A potential claimant need only determine (i) the amount of loss suffered and (ii) show that this was caused by the infringement which is the subject of the decision.
C. What did the cartel involve?
The cartel involved producers colluding on prices of medium and heavy trucks (those whose gross weight is over 5 tonnes and 16 tonnes, respectively) as well as agreeing on the timing and price increases for the introduction of new emission technologies.
Between 1997 – 2004 meetings were held between senior managers at various locations such as trade fairs and at other events to discuss the detail of the cartel arrangements. From 2004 onwards this progressed to organisation by the truck producers' subsidiaries in Germany, with information being exchanged by e-mail. Their discussions covered the following:
(i) "Gross list" price increases for medium and heavy trucks – such prices are the basis upon which the pricing of trucks is decided in the industry. A final price is reached by making further adjustments (at national and local level) to such gross list prices. The truck producers actively co-ordinated on increasing this gross list price of trucks.
(ii) Increasingly strict EU emissions standards – the producers co-ordinated on the pricing for the new technologies required to meet the stricter EU standards concerning the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions from trucks and thereby on the transference to customers of the costs of the emission technologies required. The cartelists further coordinated on when to introduce the new technologies.
Any company that purchased medium or heavy trucks from one of the five named producers between 1997 – 2011 (whether as direct or indirect purchasers and whether in the UK or elsewhere in the EU) was potentially overcharged as a result of the cartel. The cartel operated across the EU and thus any company that purchased trucks from anywhere within the EU could be entitled to damages. In any one year in which the cartel operated, thousands of medium to heavy trucks were sold, indicating the potential sums involved.
The potential damages ("overcharge") a purchaser could recover can be determined by calculating the difference between the price paid for a medium or heavy truck and the price that would have prevailed in a market in which the cartel had not operated at all. Purchasers would be entitled to recover this overcharge (plus interest) by way of damages claims in the courts.
E. Next steps
Claim Value Estimate – The first step in any recovery process is to ascertain the value of medium and heavy trucks purchased in the period spanning 1997 – 2011 and then assess the potential overcharge. For a rough estimate of claim value one could use a 5-10% overcharge figure, although this will vary from case to case. We can assist in assessing the level of loss suffered.
Consider claim – If the losses suffered merit further action, we can discuss with you how best to pursue a claim.
What happens next after the application – Once we have our list of interested parties we will supply each claimant an additional information claim form, this will be kept as simple as possible to keep your involvement to a minimum.