Photo credits @ Scania (illustrative purposes only)

Tesco sues Scania over alleged competition infringements

Tesco has filed a claim against Scania and associated entities for alleged breaches of competition law. The claim, lodged with the Competition Appeal Tribunal on Tuesday, seeks damages and other monetary sums for losses incurred by Tesco due to what it describes as “unlawful and anti-competitive behaviour" in the lorry manufacturing industry.

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Tesco’s claim revolves around allegations of collusion and price-fixing among HGV manufacturers, including Scania, dating back to as early as 1997. The supermarket giant asserts that these practices resulted in inflated prices for lorries, adversely affecting businesses reliant on transportation, including Tesco itself.

At the heart of Tesco’s case are two pivotal decisions by the European Commission, one dating back to September 2017 and the other to July 2016. These decisions, according to Tesco, highlight the extent of collusion within the industry, implicating Scania and several other manufacturers.

The supermarket chain contends that the collusion encompassed various aspects, including pricing agreements and coordination of emission technologies. Tesco alleges that these practices not only led to higher purchase and lease prices for trucks, but also hindered fair competition within the market.

A brief history of the truck cartel

The truck cartel scandal dates back to 2016, when the European Commission found that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco, and DAF had violated EU antitrust rules. These manufacturers colluded for 14 years to fix truck prices and pass on the costs of complying with stricter emissions regulations.

All companies admitted their involvement and agreed to settle the case.

The infringement covered the entire European Economic Area (EEA) and spanned 14 years, from 1997 to 2011, during which the Commission conducted surprise inspections at the companies. Finally, in 2016, the Commission imposed a record fine of €2,926,499,000 on the HGV manufacturing companies.

Hauliers, retailers, and other companies heavily reliant on lorries have initiated legal proceedings against the lorry manufacturers for years. In the UK, the Competition Appeal Tribunal gave the go-ahead in 2022 for a claim brought by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) on behalf of the UK road haulage industry, which comprises around 18,000 claimants.

Royal Mail and BT have been awarded approximately £17.5 million in damages against DAF Trucks following a decision by the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal.

Opportunities to join collective legal actions remain available to businesses. For instance, the German Federal Association for Logistics and Utilisation of Road Transport (BGL) and Truck ReClaim have extended the deadline for joining their case, which already includes claims for more than 15,000 lorries.