The RHA’s proposed collective claim for compensation over price-fixing by a cartel of truck manufacturers is well placed to get the green light to proceed from the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), according to Steven Meyerhoff, a director at legal firm Backhouse Jones which is working with the RHA on its claim.
There are two proposed collective claims before the CAT, the RHA’s and UK Trucks Claim (UKTC), backed by legal firm Weightmans. A third collective claim mooted by solicitors Edwin Coe failed to materialise although Commercialmotor.com understands an action has been issued in the High Court by Edwin Coe.
In or out?
The RHA’s claim, which now has 7,000 operators running more than 100,000 trucks signed up, is an ‘opt-in’ claim where claimants have to sign up to the class action to be eligible for any compensation awarded by the CAT. UKTC is seeking an ‘opt-out’ or alternatively, opt-in – an opt-out action, if permitted by the CAT would automatically include any operators falling within UKTC’s class definition, that is, anyone who acquired a new truck of 6 tonnes or more between 1997 and 2011.
“Past experience has shown that opt-out collective proceedings are difficult to bring even in mass consumer cases for which the opt-out regime was arguably designed,” said Meyerhoff.
The RHA claim covers new and used truck purchases and it is expected that compensation will average at least around £6,000 per vehicle.
Some large truck buyers including Royal Mail, Ryder and Dawsongroup opted to pursue their own claim for damages in the High Court, but these claims are now being heard by the same judge, Justice Peter Roth, leading the three-strong tribunal looking at the truck cartel cases.
Respond to objections
Following an initial case management conference in December last year, truck manufacturers are preparing their objections to the proposed claims by the RHA and UKTC and then both the RHA and UKTC will have a chance to respond to the objections. “The manufacturers, not named by either applicant, have indicated their intention to object to the respective applications,” said Meyerhoff. “So in our case, Volvo and Daimler are objectors with MAN, IVECO and DAF being proposed defendants. In the UKTC case, Volvo, MAN and DAF are objectors with IVECO and Daimler named as proposed defendants. Both ourselves and UKTC should have received all responses and objections by 12 April and we will need to respond by 3 May.”
A preliminary hearing to decide whether either one or both claims will go forward will take place on 3 to 7 June this year. As the hearing before the CAT approaches, there is still a chance for truck operators to join the RHA’s claim. The RHA expects to hear later this year whether or not the CAT agrees the collective claim should proceed.
“The CAT has expressed a desire to see a prompt resolution for the cartel case rather than having it drag on for years, though the truck makers will have a right of appeal against any judgement,” said Meyerhof.
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