The European Commission has imposed a record aggregate fine of €2.93 billion on truck manufacturers who colluded to fix prices for over a decade. The Commission found that a cartel was operating in the EU market for medium and large lorries (over 6 tonnes) in the period 1997 to 2011. The Commission estimates the cartel covered 90% of the EU market. The Commission also found that the cartelists had agreed to delay the roll-out of new technology. Further details can be found in the Commission press release.
The finding is likely to lead to “follow-on” claims by those affected by the cartel. Potentially, any company that purchased or leased a lorry manufactured by these companies during the period 1997 to 2011 may have a claim for damages, equivalent to the amount of the overcharge – which initial estimates place in the region of €12,000 per vehicle. There is ordinarily no need to prove liability on the part of the cartelists when bringing such “follow-on” claims, as this will be deemed to have been established by the decision of the Commission. Bringing a follow-on claim may not even involve any significant expenditure, as these claims are often funded by specialist funders. It may also be possible for claims to be combined with those of other companies, to make the process more cost-effective.
With potentially very significant amounts at stake, many businesses will be looking at the extent of any losses they may have suffered and the options that they may have to bring follow-on claims, including the most advantageous jurisdiction in which to bring claims. Our international competition disputes team is already exploring possible claims for a number of clients and would be happy to discuss what this might mean for your business.