After several years of uneventful waiting, recent developments in the RHA case have brought truck cartel compensation back to the spotlight in the UK.
For those who may have missed the latest news, a ruling by the Competition Appeal Tribunal on 8 June 2022 has given the Road Haulage Association the right to pursue its collective action on behalf of hauliers to recover damages from the Truck Cartel.
Many details will need to be clarified in the coming days, but it is already clear that while the decision is an overall success for the RHA, the court has also imposed some limitations. The judgement states for example that trucks purchased or leased outside the UK are excluded from the proceedings.
Dr. Werner A. Meier of the law firm Marzillier, Dr. Meier & Dr. Guntner (Munich, Germany) summarises the key facts that British truck owners need to know if they decide to start / pursue follow-on-proceedings in Germany rather than doing so locally.
- The issue of the statute of limitations is governed by German substantive law. Accordingly, no absolute statute of limitations has yet occurred.
In plain words, new trucks purchased / leased between 2007 and 2016 are still entitled to compensation.
- Owners of trucks purchased / leased within EU*/EEA**/Switzerland und UK can claim their compensation in German courts.
- Even though the process against Scania is still pending (see our latest update here), buyers of each of the 7 truck brands: DAF, Iveco, MAN, Mercedes, Renault, Scania, Volvo can now legally claim compensation.
- An important development is the jurisprudence of the German Federal Court of Justice, which in its ruling of 23.09.2020 fully confirmed the basic liability of the cartelists and the legal position of the plaintiffs. Also important: in a recent ruling, the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main did not allow an appeal to the Federal Supreme Court. This is a clear indication that the fundamental liability issues in the truck cartel case have now been clarified and that the regional courts can now work through the cases on the basis of firm guidelines.
- Damage assessment: German law provides for the possibility of estimation. This can make things much easier.
- When claiming at German Court the risk of inadmissibility is eliminated.
- As opposed to class actions (so-called SPV-s) which are widespread in the United Kingdom, individual lawsuits filed in German courts create an unparalleled level of transparency. Each plaintiff receives from the court (specifically for him or her) a precise assessment of damages, broken down to the eurocent, and the start of the interest run.
- The German courts are already well advanced with the damage assessment, a process which began as early as 2019.
* EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
** EEA member countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.