Photo credits @ Facebook/TollCollect

German road toll overpayment case: Court ruling could see up to €1 billion paid out to road hauliers

The Administrative Court of Cologne has ruled in favour of a transport company and awarded a lorry toll reimbursement of up to approximately €1 billion for the years 2016-2020, with interest calculated at 5% above the base rate, following an ECJ ruling from 2020. However, a final decision on other cost elements is pending.

You can read this article in 3 minutes

On 20 March, the Cologne Administrative Court ruled (reference number 14 K 6556/20) in favour of a transport company. The court awarded them a refund of lorry tolls related to traffic policing costs. The refund amounts to 5.86% of infrastructure costs incurred between 2016 and 2018, and 4.44% for those incurred between 2019 and 2020.

Law firm Pfnür Rechtsanwälte reports that the court also awarded interest on the tolls at an EU rate of 5% above the base rate, calculated from the date of payment.

 This exceeds the haulage industry’s expectations, which had been around 4%, the law firm added.

Lawyers estimate the court’s decision could lead to refunds of up to €1 billion for hauliers over the period in question. However, it’s unclear if all 38,000 or so claimants will receive this amount, and how many hauliers may have missed out by not submitting claims in time. The law firm further stated, to this refund amount, interest is also added in accordance with EU law (currently 8.62% per annum), calculated from the relevant date of payment of tolls.

Martin Pfnür, the lawyer representing the successful company, welcomed the ruling. 

This is a significant step forward in our client’s case for reclaiming overpaid tolls, he said. Thanks to this judgment, the CJEU ruling of October 28, 2020 was finally applied to the period between 2016 and 2020, Pfnür emphasised. 

However, he pointed out that the judgement can still be appealed.

It’s important to note that only part of the policing costs have been reviewed so far. In January 2023, the 14th Chamber of the Cologne Administrative Court transferred the remaining elements from the so-called model proceedings into separate proceedings (reference number 14 K 626/23) due to the need for further discussion. This will be resolved separately at a later date.