Addleshaw Goddard, alongside pre-eminent transport and logistics law firm Backhouse Jones, has filed an application for a collective proceedings order (CPO) in the Competition Appeal Tribunal on behalf of the Road Haulage Association (RHA), marking the start of a claim against European truck manufacturers found to be colluding in a 14-year price fixing cartel between 1997 and 2011.
The summary of the application was published on 27 July 2018 by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
The application seeks authorisation of the RHA as class representative on behalf of truck operators claiming damages from truck manufacturers as a result of a 14-year cartel. If successful, this will be the first CPO application to be granted under the new collective proceedings regime since it was introduced in October 2015.
Addleshaw Goddard were appointed in November 2017, working in conjunction with Backhouse Jones, to advise on recovering compensation for thousands of truck operators. The RHA, which announced its intention to bring collective proceedings in August 2016, a month after the European Commission issued its first decision in the case, has set up a website for operators to register their interest. Early indications are that UK transport operators which opt into the claim could be entitled to damages of £6,000 for every 6-tonne and above vehicle they bought or leased between 1997 and 2011. The claim is fully funded by Therium Capital Management Limited and has the benefit of After the Event Insurance, allowing claimants to participate in the collective proceedings without contributing their own funds.
Addleshaw Goddard partners Mark Molyneux and Bruce Kilpatrick are leading a cross-office team from Litigation and Competition, assisted by Managing Associate Samantha Haigh. Addleshaw Goddard will work alongside Steven Meyerhoff, Jonathan Backhouse and James Lomax from Backhouse Jones; and a counsel team including competition barristers David Went from Exchange Chambers and James Flynn QC from Brick Court Chambers.
Mark Molyneux, partner at Addleshaw Goddard said: "This is a significant claim and we expect the overall value is likely to exceed £1 billion. This was a lengthy infringement of competition law that we know has affected around 600,000 purchasers of trucks in the UK between 1997 and 2011. We know cartel activity is extremely damaging to customers and truck purchasers should be entitled to be compensated for the loss that they have a suffered as a result of this activity. We hope that the CAT will agree that this is exactly the right type of claim that should be permitted under the new regime and allow the RHA to bring a collective claim on behalf truck purchasers."
Bruce Kilpatrick, partner at Addleshaw Goddard, commenting on the action, said: "This is a significant step for private enforcement cases, with this application (if certified) being seen as the flagship case upon which all other collective proceedings are likely to be brought. These claims are crucial to ensure that customers (particularly small businesses) which have suffered harm as a result of anti-competitive activity can recover damages in a cost effective manner and without having to bring a claim in their own name."
Steven Meyerhoff, Director at Backhouse Jones (legal representatives for the RHA) added: "The submission of the application is the first formal step in the RHA’s seeking to be appointed class representative on behalf of road haulage operators who suffered loss because of the Trucks Cartel. The RHA will be asking the Tribunal for what’s called a 'collective proceedings order' which will authorise the RHA as class representative and define the class of businesses that can opt in to the claim. As the claim is being brought on an opt-in basis, businesses wanting to be part of the claim will need to opt in once the Tribunal has authorised the RHA to be class representative."