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14 February 23

Fleet operators receive £20m compensation

Fleet operators receive £20m compensation payments in a ruling that could result in many more successful claims that could total over £100m

News broke last week that one of Europe’s market-leading truck manufacturers must pay Royal Mail and BT about £20 million as part of a landmark cartel damages ruling that could pave the way for further compensation orders.

The Times reported “that Competition experts predicted that DAF, a company based in Eindhoven in the Netherlands, will pay Royal Mail alone more than £17 million after the competition appeal tribunal in London ruled that both British companies should be awarded damages.”

The companies involved included Volvo/Renault, Daf, Daimler, Iveco and Man and the EU imposed record fines in 2016 of €2.9bn.

According to the European Commission’s press release in 2016, “the infringement covered the entire EEA and lasted 14 years, from 1997 until 2011, when the Commission carried out unannounced inspections of the firms. Between 1997 and 2004, meetings were held at senior manager level, sometimes at the margins of trade fairs or other events. This was complemented by phone conversations. From 2004 onwards, the cartel was organised via the truck producers' German subsidiaries, with participants generally exchanging information electronically.”

They went on to add “MAN was not fined as it revealed the existence of the cartel to the Commission. All companies acknowledged their involvement and agreed to settle the case”.

The trucks manufacturers ‘cartel’ affected a significant percentage of the over half a million fleet operators and hauliers throughout Europe.  These businesses are often small to medium sized businesses as well as more significant fleet operators like in this instance BT and Royal Mail.

Fleet management services teams and fleet tyre managers should note that any business which had purchased trucks during the period in question from any of the ‘Cartel’ members would potentially have the right to claim compensation for any loss incurred as a result of the higher prices which they were made to pay for trucks due to the price fixing.

The Times article added that “Lawyers said it was the first time that the tribunal had made an order for “follow-on” damages against one of the defendant companies in an earlier European Commission finding that they were involved in a cartel.

The figures are estimated as the tribunal has instructed the parties to attempt to arrive at a compensation deal. If they cannot, the case will return for a further hearing.”

The hearing before the London tribunal was, said the three judges in their ruling, “the first of many such claims arising out of the infringement to go to trial in the UK”.

It was reported that “Royal Mail and BT argued that they had bought or leased large volumes of lorries from DAF during the infringement period, when prices and lease payments were higher than they would have been if the companies had not formed an unlawful cartel.”

Reacting to the latest ruling, a Royal Mail spokesman said the company was “very pleased with the tribunal’s judgment in what is a clear and emphatic win. It has taken us more than six years to get this outcome. We await confirmation of the final damages to be awarded”. A spokesman for DAF in the Netherlands said that the company would not comment on the tribunal ruling.


Thanks to the following sources to help put this ‘Blog’ together.

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