Thousands of HGV operators represented by RHA have moved one step closer to winning compensation from a cartel of truck manufacturers after the Court of Appeal today (25 July) rejected a legal challenge brought by DAF and MAN.
The case in the Appeal Court centred around the Competition Appeal Tribunal decision last year to grant RHA the first ever opt-in collective proceedings order to pursue the claim on behalf of more than 17,000 truck operators.
DAF and MAN, along with UKTC, who are rival applicants, appealed against the tribunal decision on the grounds that there was an irreconcilable conflict within the group of claimants, between those who purchased new vehicles and those who purchased used vehicles.
They argued that this conflict between the two groups of purchasers meant that the RHA should not be authorised to bring the claim.
Having heard arguments on 9, 10, and 11 May 2023, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeals today, giving RHA the greenlight to continue with its collective claim on behalf of new and used truck purchasers.
However the Court of Appeal did disagree with the Competitions Tribunal on the point at which the conflict between new and used truck purchasers needs to be addressed.
While the Tribunal was content not to have the conflict between the two groups addressed until later in the proceedings, the Court of Appeal determined that the conflict needs to be dealt with now and before the collective proceedings order (CPO) is actually made.
Moreover, in order to deal with the conflict, the Court of Appeal has said that the RHA must create a subgroup within the RHA to represent those who purchased used trucks and that the subgroup must have a different legal team and different economist from the legal team and economist appointed by the RHA to deal with the overall claim. ad more
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The Court of Appeal also suggested that it may be necessary for the subgroup to have a separate funder funding the claim for the used truck purchasers.
The cartel of truck manufacturers, which included DAF, Iveco, Daimler-Mercedes, Renault-Volvo, Scania and MAN, were found by the European Commission in 2014, to have breached competition law between 1997-2011 and fined almost €4bn for their cartel activity. The decision has given rise to a number of compensation claims including the class action, led by RHA.
RHA is bringing the only UK collective claim against the truck cartel to obtain compensation for road transport operators who purchased or leased trucks from 1997 onwards.
The scheme is open to any company, firm, or person who purchased or leased a new truck between 17 January 1997 and 31 January 2014 or a used truck between 17 January 1997 and 31 January 2015. There is no cost to join the collective claim and no requirement to be an RHA member.
Richard Smith, RHA managing director, welcomed todays decision by the Court of Appeal. He said: "We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeals and are hopeful that the RHA can now move the case forward with the Competition Appeal Tribunal and obtain compensation for all those operators who have joined the claim”
Steven Meyerhoff, director at Backhouse Jones, which represents the RHA, commented “The Court of Appeal was right to reject the various appeal points raised by the OEMs and UKTC.
"On the conflict issue, the Court of Appeal has effectively asked the RHA to put in place the safeguards the RHA offered to the Competition Appeal Tribunal at the time the tribunal was hearing the RHA’s CPO application.
"The legal team will now work towards putting the safeguards in place with a view to progressing the case with the Tribunal as soon as reasonably practicable.”