In the Netherlands, our clients’ claims are in the third wave of plaintiffs. This allows us to follow the development of the case for the two groups of plaintiffs that will be tried before us and to prepare ourselves better.
Our Dutch lawyers are therefore following the judgments of the Amsterdam court and evaluating what the Court’s conclusions mean for us. On July 20, 2022, the Court issued a partial judgment in the first class action, a summary of which can be read below.
In short, the cartelists did not defend any of the arguments they presented to the Court, and the Court instead repeatedly found in favour of the claimants.
The judgment dealt with three main aspects:
I. Admissibility of the action
On this point, the cartelists challenged the use of the assignment of claims model as a form of transfer of standing to litigate and described that model as inadmissible. However, the Court rejected this argument and found that there was no reason to render the action inadmissible on this ground.
This is great news for us as it confirms that the assignment of the claims model (which is the model we also use) can be successfully applied in this case as well.
II. Governing law
In this case, the Amsterdam Court held that it was essentially impossible to obtain a truck in the EU whose price was not affected by the cartel, and therefore it could not be said that the place where the contract was concluded was the only place where competitive relations were affected.
For that reason, the Court also found that the applicability of Dutch law was sufficient for all the parties to the cartel who were brought before the Dutch court. The Court thus confirmed that Dutch law is the applicable law.
III. Validity of the assignment of claims
The cartel members challenged the validity of the assignment agreements between the representative companies and their clients. They based their argument on the fact that, according to them, the applicants had not submitted the documents necessary to verify the validity in a sufficiently organised manner.
The court did not find this or other objections sufficiently persuasive and found no basis for declaring the assignments invalid.
It can therefore be summarised that, as expected, the cartelists defence is mainly based on supporting arguments which do not relate to the damage caused. However, the court’s reaction to their opinions is primarily negative, which significantly strengthens the position of both the claimants in the first wave and us as claimants in the third wave.