Claiming damages for infringement of EU competition law by Europe’s Leading Truck Manufacturers – Update – February 2021

Background
In 2018 UK Trucks Claim Limited (UKTC) applied to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) for a Collective Proceedings Order (CPO) with a view to claiming damages on behalf of purchasers and lessees of new trucks in the UK caused by the cartel operated by the manufacturers of medium and heavyweight trucks between 1997-2011. The European Commission published a Decision in 2016 fining the manufacturers involved €2.9bn.

UKTC is a company specially formed to bring this class action in the CAT. The board of UKTC is drawn from experienced members of industries directly affected, with a former Deputy High Court judge as its Chairman. UKTC’s aim is to represent the interests of a class of victims made up of those who purchased or leased new trucks in the UK during the period of operation of the cartel, whatever sector they may have operated in. UKTC is pursuing the class claim as a completely independent body representing the interests of class members from sectors including:

  • Wholesale
  • Retail
  • Logistics
  • Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Distribution
  • Delivery Services
  • Local Authorities
  • Emergency Services
  • Haulage.

UKTC’s class definition is any person or organisation who, during the period of the cartel, purchased or leased one or more new medium or heavy trucks registered in the UK. It includes all those who drive and operate trucks as part of their business. The class excludes military trucks, the authorised dealers of truck manufacturers and finance companies whose only interest is to help others to finance the acquisition of the trucks.

UKTC’s application is for an “opt-out” CPO, by which all new truck purchasers and lessees are automatically included in the class action unless they choose to opt-out. To qualify as a class member a victim does not need to sign up to any funding agreement or insurance policy because UKTC has already put those arrangements in place. Under this opt-out case, the legal costs and funding costs would not be deducted from the award of damages, enabling each victim to take its full share of the award of damages, without any deductions.

Whilst we believe the opt-out option best serves the interests of all those who have been financially disadvantaged by the actions of the cartelists, UKTC has also applied for an opt-in order as an alternative to its opt-out claim. We have done

this to provide the CAT with this option should it be so minded. The cost and funding position is different for an “opt-in” CPO.
Further details of the claim and information about UKTC can be found at UKTC’s website:
https://uktrucksclaim.co.uk/

The deadline for starting a claim
UKTC’s class claim for an “opt-out” order (which automatically includes all new truck purchasers and lessees during the cartel period unless they choose otherwise) was started within the limitation period. Anyone who is part of the UKTC class will therefore be part of a claim which was brought within time if the opt-out CPO is granted to UKTC by the CAT.

The measure of damages
A class claim of this kind enables the CAT to award a single lump sum of damages to be shared between all eligible class members without any individual class member having to prove its actual loss. The measure of damages starts with the difference between the artificially inflated price paid in the market to purchase or lease a new truck during the period affected by the cartel, and the price that would have applied in a competitive market. Large fleet operators may have claims worth millions and smaller operators may have claims running to tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Funding the Claim
A class claim enables the class members to share the costs of the claim, including legal and professional costs and insurance premium payments. UKTC’s litigation funder is meeting disbursement payments. Weightmans are UKTC’s solicitors, whose fees will be paid at the end of the case if it succeeds. UKTC will ask the CAT to order the cartelists to reimburse Weightmans’ fees, the funder’s fees and the disbursements paid by the funder. There is no cost risk to UKTC or the class members if the claim fails. The funder has arranged an insurance-backed indemnity for any adverse costs. There is no cost for those financially disadvantaged by the actions of the cartelists and the independent UKTC Board is committed to securing fair compensation for all those affected. In 2019 the CAT approved UKTC’s funding arrangements.

Current position
The CAT has now set the dates for the hearing of UKTC’s application. The CAT will hear the application between 19 and 26 April 2021. We are working with the barristers and economic experts to prepare for that hearing.

Next steps
When the CAT makes its decision as to whether UKTC’s class action should go forward, further guidance on how you participate and how you claim will be available. Until then anyone wanting to benefit from UKTC’s claim need take no action.
The UKTC Board would like to hear from you. If you have issues you would like to raise please contact
mike@uktrucksclaim.co.uk If you wish to register your interest in the UKTC claim and to receive regular updates from Weightmans or if you have any questions or comments, please email amber.jeral@weightmans.com.