A competition law firm hoping to win compensation from the truck manufacturers that were found guilty of operating in a cartel has said its case is gaining momentum.
Hausfeld’s case has so far received interest from companies all over Europe who it said collectively purchased around 150,000 trucks during the period the cartel was running between 1997 and 2011.
However, according to managing partner Laurent Geelhand, it could be five or six years before an outcome is reached if litigation is the only option. He explained it wanted to repair the relationship between manufacturers and their customers, with litigation being a last resort.
He told Commercialmotor.com: “It’s not in the manufacturers’ best interests to litigate. It would be very costly for them.
“Truck manufacturers will say there has been no overcharge, but they have passed it on to their customers.”
Hausfeld is currently building its case and hopes to begin to assess the damage the cartel caused to the industry during the first quarter of 2017.
“The more you get into the case you realise the industry is more complex than you would think,” he said, particularly as operators can purchase trucks through various finance schemes.
Most of the negotiations will take place in Germany, Geelhand said, as that is where many of the manufacturers’ subsidiaries that took part in the price fixing activity are based.
He said that the period during which the manufacturers had the opportunity to appeal the European Commission’s decision expired a few weeks ago.
Stoke South MP Rob Flello has called for operators to be compensated without having to take the manufacturers to court.
“These big companies have been sitting on cash belonging to British businesses for years and they should be forced to cough up without waiting for a solicitor’s letter. It’s hard enough for players in our freight sector, especially the smaller ones, to make a decent living, without being conned by giant global corporations,” said Flello.
Flello, who is also the chairman for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Freight Transport, said hauliers should “get onto their dealers and demand they’re repaid”.
The RHA and Bentham Europe also intend to explore legal action against the truck manufacturers.