Truck cartel: What does it mean for operators, and why get involved?

Truck cartel: What does it mean for operators, and why get involved?

27 Sep 2022 Posted By Kate Gibbs

The RHA’s truck-pricing cartel case took a major step forward in June. The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) delivered an important ruling allowing the Association to proceed with its collective claim against the truck OEMs on behalf of the industry. 

Roadway Editor Tony Hall asked RHA MD Richard Smith about the importance of the claim and the implications of the ruling.

Why should my business be part of the RHA’s cartel claim?

RS: From a legal perspective, the truck manufacturers have admitted their involvement in some pretty serious cartel activity. The European Commission fined them €2.9 billion, even after discount for settlement, which demonstrates just how serious the infringements actually were. If you bought or leased a truck between 1997 and 2015 you probably overpaid for it.

The RHA is taking action because it considers it is incumbent upon it as a leading trade association to provide access to justice to operators who have been overcharged for trucks they have purchased or leased.

It has put together a team of industry leading experts. It has also ensured that the action is funded and insured meaning that truck operators have no upfront cost and no risk in joining the action.

What can a business claim for? Can it claim if trucks were leased?

RS: Provided operators are engaged in road haulage operations (on a hire and reward or own-account basis) then you can claim for trucks registered in the UK and weighing six tonnes and over. You can claim for new trucks purchased or leased between 17 January 1997 and 31 January 2014 (both short and long-term leases are included).

For used trucks purchased or leased in the UK between 17 January 1997 and 31 January 2015. And claim for increased costs due to the OEMs’ co-ordinated delay in introducing emission technologies between 17 January 1997 and 31 January 2014.

How do you sign up for the RHA claim? What information will the RHA need?

RS: Almost every operator has signed up via the dedicated website. The link to register is here.

It is important that you keep any documents from January 1997 that might be relevant to your case, including purchase documents, finance documents, lease documents, registration documents, annual accounts, information on the costs of your business and price lists.

If you no longer have these then you are still likely to be eligible to participate in the RHA’s collective claim. It may be possible to obtain the relevant records from third party sources.

If a business is already signed up, what do they have to do next?

RS: Retain your records and keep regular checks for email updates from the legal team.

How long will it take before they receive compensation? How much can they expect to receive?

RS: It is difficult to anticipate when the case will conclude because it’s the first of its kind and is precedent-setting. I am hopeful that the matter will be concluded within the next three years. In terms of the amount of compensation, the RHA’s due diligence to-date indicates that the Truck Cartel will have had a material impact on the prices your business paid for your trucks regardless of whether you purchased them outright, purchased them on finance, or leased them.

The RHA will be seeking to reclaim the difference between what the trucks should have cost in a competitive market as compared with the cartel prices, together with any other increases in operators’ costs – for example in relation to fuel – resulting from the cartel.

The RHA believes that the amount of compensation per new truck will be material and is likely to exceed £6,000 on average, including interest. This figure doesn’t take into account potential compensation in relation to increased fuel costs arising from the truck manufacturers deciding collectively to delay the introduction of more fuel-efficient emissions technologies.

What’s going to happen next in the cartel claim. And when?

RS: It is anticipated that the Competition Appeal Tribunal will issue a legal notice which will formally identify the class and eligibility for inclusion. I am hopeful it will be issued in the autumn. The RHA has asked for a six-month period to allow those who have not already joined the action to do so. However, I cannot guarantee the Tribunal will allow this. If you haven’t yet signed up, I would do so now before the time period for doing so has expired. If you have any queries, then please contact your area manager.

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