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Amsterdam court clears way for Pan-European truck cartel damages claim


The European Commission (EC) announced that it has fined Scania €880 million for its participation in the 1997-2011 truck cartel. See the judgement here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-17-3502_en.htm   This is the second highest fine ever imposed on an individual company by the EC.

On Friday 22 September 2017, the District Court of Amsterdam published a landmark decision endorsing the assignment model of litigation whereby victims of cartels from all over Europe can pool their claims in a single legal case in order to obtain damages for the ‘overcharge’ that they paid as a result of a cartel.

With the clear support from the judiciary for this mass litigation model, the Netherlands is likely to become the key jurisdiction for Pan-European damage claims arising from the trucks cartel. As DAF and Iveco are domiciled in the Netherlands, Dutch courts will have jurisdiction to award compensation against all cartel members. The six truck makers have already instructed Dutch counsel.

Background – record fines
The European Commission (EC) announced that it has fined Scania €880 million for its participation in the 1997-2011 truck cartel. This is the second highest fine ever imposed on an individual company by the EC. The EC confirmed that the size of fine against Scania was based on the ‘serious nature of the infringement’, Scania’s sales of trucks and the geographic scope and duration of the cartel.

In July 2016 the EC announced that it had imposed fines MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF totalling €2.93 billion. See the judgement here: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-2582_en.htm

MAN escaped an individual fine on the basis that it had ‘blown the whistle’ on the cartel when it approached the EC in September 2010. After several months of investigation, on 25 January 2011 the EC then carried out unannounced dawn raids on the other European truck manufacturers.

Subsequently Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF also formally admitted their role in the cartel to the EC and thereby received a 10% reduction in the level of their fines. Even with this reduction, the fine of €1 billion imposed on Daimler was the largest ever cartel fine ever levied by the EC on a company.

Scania did not make formal admissions regarding its participation in the cartel. This meant that the EC investigation process against it took longer. It also meant that Scania did not receive the 10% reduction in the level of its fine.

On Tuesday 26 September, European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said “This cartel affected very substantial numbers of road hauliers in Europe, since Scania and the other truck manufacturers in the cartel produce more than 9 out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks sold in Europe…..Instead of colluding on pricing, the truck manufacturers should have been competing against each other”.

Landmark Decision of Amsterdam Court

On Friday 22 September 2017, the District Court of Amsterdam published a landmark decision endorsing the assignment model of litigation whereby claimants who are victims of cartels from all over Europe can pool their claims in a single legal case in order to obtain damages for the ‘overcharge’ that they paid as a result of a cartel. The decision was made in the case being run by the leading Netherlands law firm BarentsKrans against KLM, Air France, Lufthansa and British Airways on behalf of victims of the 1999-2006 air cargo cartel.

The pooled claims of the victims of the cartel will be handled by BarentsKrans and funded by Claims Funding Europe and the US law firm Grant & Eisenhofer.

Martin Hyde, director of Claims Funding Europe said “The scale and length of the European truck cartel is astonishing. Businesses all over Europe have been hit hard by it.

Martijn van Maanen, cartel litigation partner at BarentsKrans: “This important decision of the Amsterdam court clears the way for the Netherlands to become the focal point of the fight between the truck manufacturers and the victims of their illegal price collusion”.