East Anglian firms in line for millions in compensation from ‘truck cartel’ ruling

Trucks fill up with fuel at a petrol station. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

Trucks fill up with fuel at a petrol station. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Haulage and transport firms across East Anglia could be in line for a share of millions of pounds of compensation because of a landmark European ruling.

Haulage and transport firms across East Anglia could be in line for a share of millions of pounds of compensation because of a landmark European ruling.

Companies which bought or leased goods vehicles or small trucks may be entitled to payouts if they are found to have overpaid for vehicles as a result of price-fixing activity among major manufacturers during a 14-year period.

The European Commission found that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF colluded on truck pricing between 1997 and 2011, breaking EU anti-trust rules in the process. The commission last summer imposed a fine of 2.9bn euros and paved the way for those affected by the price-fixing cartel to claim compensation for any overpayments they made.

Industry body the Road Haulage Association is now pursuing a group claim for compensation and its early estimates suggest that companies may be due up to £6,000 per vehicle affected – which could add up to a significant rebate for one of East Anglia's biggest sectors.

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One major haulier, Jack Richards of Fakenham, has joined the group action but does not yet know the extent of potential compensation.

'At the time we were replacing our vehicles every four to five years and had just over 100 in our fleet,' said general manager Oliver Mitchell.

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'Not all the manufacturers we used were part of this [ruling] so it is hard to put a figure on how far this will have impacted us.'

Gary Warren, of R Turner (Haulage) near Newmarket, added: 'It is deeply disappointing that over a long period purchasers appear to have been misled and incurred unnecessarily excessive costs in a sector where margins have been very low. We welcome any redress.'

Ashtons Legal is among the East Anglian law firms which has seen a surge in interest from clients.

Tim Ridyard, specialist road transport and regulatory partner, said: 'The Truck Cartel case, as it has been nicknamed, is currently a very big issue in the transport sector.

'For those businesses and individuals who bought, leased or purchased new or used goods vehicles or trucks between 1997 and 2011 it means they can bring a claim for compensation of at least 10% of the purchase price, perhaps more. Many people affected would have bought fleets of such vehicles and in their case the potential compensation could be very large indeed'.

He added: 'Some claimants will be those that transport goods as their business but also some will transport their own goods such as farmers, manufacturers, scaffolders, builders, construction workers, engineers and those involved in waste disposal and skips.'

• Are you affected by the truck cartel case? Email business editor Mark Shields on mark.shields@archant.co.uk or call 01603 772426.

What did the manufacturers do?

The European Commission fined European truck manufacturers €2.926 billion in July 2016 for price fixing and other cartel activities between 1997 and 2011. The five involved - DAF, Daimler, Iveco, MAN, and Volvo/Renault - admitted their guilt.

They were found to have:

• Fixed gross, and sometimes net, list prices;

• Aligned gross list prices across Europe;

• Reduced rebates when the Euro was introduced;

• Delayed the introduction of more fuel efficient technologies (Euro 3, 4, 5 and 6 standards);

• Agreed the cost operators should pay for those technologies.

What can companies claim for?

• Trucks bought or leased between 1997 and 2011

• Trucks of six tonnes or more

• They may also be able to claim for trucks bought after 2011 if it is proven that the price-fixing before that period affected the market afterwards. Second-hand trucks could also be included.

How much compensation could companies claim?

According to the Road Haulage Association, which is gathering companies together to pursue a group claim, conservative estimates put the figure at £6,000 per truck during the period. It expects that the case could take several years to conclude, however.

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