Addleshaws advises on £1bn damages claim against truck cartel

Addleshaw Goddard is advising as the Road Haulage Association (RHA) brings a £1bn collective action against multiple European truck manufacturers.

The case follows a €3.8bn (£3.4bn) fine of truck companies DAF, Daimler (Mercedes), Iveco, MAN, Volvo, Renault and Scania by the European Commission, which found that they had participated in a 14-year price fixing cartel between 1997 and 2011.

The RHA is taking action against the truck cartel to compensate UK hauliers who purchased or leased trucks during those 14 years. The group plans to lodge a collective proceedings order (CPO) application in late January or early February, with an expectation that the case will be heard during the summer.

The RHA has appointed Addleshaws alongside specialist transport firm Backhouse Jones, while the claim is being backed by litigation funder Therium Capital Management.

Addleshaws litigation partner Mark Molyneux and competition head Bruce Kilpatrick are leading the firm’s team on the case, while Backhouse Jones is fielding a team led by directors Steven Meyerhoff, Jonathan Backhouse and Ian Jones.

The truck companies have retained the same legal advisers for the RHA claim as previous group claims, such as competition boutique Hausfeld’s financing package for UK claimants, which launched in July.

Daimler is being represented by Quinn partner Boris Bronfentrinker while MAN has turned to Slaughters, with disputes partner and co-head of global investigations Richard Swallow and disputes head Sarah Lee leading the team.

It is understood that Volvo Trucks, which also owns the Renault Trucks business, has lined up Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer competition head Jon Lawrence and competition litigation partner Bea Tormey. Meanwhile, Iveco is thought to have appointed Herbert Smith Freehills partner Kim Dietzel.

Addleshaws and Backhouse Jones have instructed Mark Cawson QC, Stephen Connolly and former Sidley Austin partner David Went from Exchange Chambers, and James Flynn QC from Brick Court Chambers.

The claim is an opt-in claim so parties need to register to be part of the group. So far, more than 2,400 truck operators have opted into the group, representing 150,000 trucks, while 650 more have expressed an interested in signing up.

Meyerhoff said: “Any truck operator that has bought or leased a medium or heavy truck since 1997 stands to win compensation through the RHA’s proposed claim. Looking at the number of operators already signed up, which is increasing by the day, we expect the overall value of the RHA’s claim to exceed £1bn.”

If successful, this would be the first CPO to be granted under the new collective actions regime introduced in October 2015. Two previous CPO applications were rejected this year, including Mobility Products Limited relating to mobility scooters and a £14bn Mastercard claim relating to payment card interchange fees.  Both were rejected by the CAT at the certification stage.

Photo credit: John Carver