The class action for the price collusion of truck manufacturers is dismissed. The battle for millions of euros is not over

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The class action for the price collusion of truck manufacturers is dismissed. The battle for millions of euros is not over

After the dismissal of the collective action for multi-million-dollar damages by the Munich Regional Court, the law firm representing the carriers announced an appeal against the judgment. At stake is the compensation payment for 84,000 trucks.

 In a ruling issued last Friday, the Munich District Court, to the surprise of the German association BGL organising the class action, disagreed with the legal opinion of the Federal Court of Justice on the interpretation of the Legal Services Act regarding the admissibility of legaltech tools for debt collection companies such as Financialright. 

Furthermore, the decision of the Munich District Court also departs from the positions of the District Courts of Brunswick and Frankfurt, which confirmed the assignment models used by the sister company Financialright – myRight vs. Volkswagen,” comments BGL.

Truck buyers have assigned their claims to Financialright, which is the only claimant in this case. Financialright would receive one-third of the compensation payment if it won.

The presiding judge, Gesa Lutz, stated that the carriers had commissioned a dispute with the financier of the trial, in breach of the Law on Legal Services. The decision is not final. 

The case was decided by a court in the Bavarian capital city for damages for 84,000 vehicles estimated at €867 million. 

Financialright immediately announced that it would appeal. BGL and partners assume that Friday’s court ruling will not be upheld in the second instance. 

Record-breaking penalty imposed by the European Commission

Truck manufacturers MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF were fined in July 2016 with a record-breaking fine in the history of the European Union, totalling almost €3 billion. The collusion will cost companies much more – carriers from all over Europe fight for compensation. It is estimated that companies can win up to €100 billion in the whole European Union.

On 27th September 2017, the European Commission also imposed a fine on the Swedish automotive company Scania for its participation in the cartel. According to the decision of Brussels, the fine is €880 million. Scania, as established by the EC, for 14 years had also been setting truck prices and costs for new emission abatement technologies with five other manufacturers, who were already punished in 2016.

Spanish verdicts

Things are completely different in Spain. Several judgments have already been passed in the local courts ordering manufacturers to pay compensation. The first judgment was delivered in late 2018 by the Murcia Commercial Court No. 1, according to which Volvo Group Spain was to pay the applicant €128,757 in damages plus interest for the purchase of five trucks in October 2012. The claimant’s lawyer then managed to prove that the price of the trucks purchased in 2012 was still overstated due to the price collusion, by as much as 20.7%. That’s almost €26,000 per truck. This amount is much higher than the experts’ estimates, which oscillated around an average of €10,000 per vehicle.

At the end of November last year, the Commercial Court of Almeria ruled in the case of Iberlex Asociados vs. DAF. Iberlex Asociados sued the manufacturer for damages in connection with the price collusion between 1997 and 2011. The court found that the carrier had overpaid 15% of the net price for the trucks purchased in that period. The judge, therefore, ordered the manufacturer to pay the aforementioned 15% and the statutory interest calculated from the date of purchase of the vehicles.

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