Irish hauliers’ actions against truck makers likely to be heard in 2020
Record fines totalling €2.93 billion handed out to manufacturers over price-fixing
The European Commission found in 2016 that five major truck manufacturers – MAN, Volvo Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF – had broken EU anti-trust laws
Dozens of damages claims by Irish hauliers against Europe’s biggest truck manufacturers over alleged engagement in anti-competitive practices are expected to be heard next year.
The truck makers, the commission found, had colluded for 14 years on truck pricing in the EEA area and on passing on the costs of compliance with stricter emission rules to their customers.
Record fines totalling €2.93 billion were handed out to four of the companies. MAN was made an exception because it had revealed the existence of the cartel to the commission.
As a result of the commission’s findings, dozens of Irish hauliers, represented by Paul McGarry SC, instructed by solicitor Evan O’Dwyer, launched separate damages actions before the Irish High Court for alleged breach of Irish and EU competition laws.
The actions are against the truck manufacturers and various Irish based dealerships that sold the vehicles.
The claim includes for exemplary and punitive damages for alleged negligence and breach of contract.
The plaintiffs also seek compensation under the Competition Act.
More than 50 cases have been brought to date and more are expected to be taken.
The proceedings were stayed pending the outcome of a decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on a preliminary point of law raised in similar actions before the Hungarian courts.
The ECJ was asked to clarify if domestic courts, such as the Irish High Court, have the ability to hear cases in which truck owners are maintaining claims for compensation.
Last July, the ECJ ruled hauliers’ claims for compensation can be brought before the domestic courts of member states, clearing the way for the Irish cases to proceed here.
The cases were briefly mentioned on Friday before Mr Justice Max Barrett, who deals with competition cases.
The judge set out a timetable for the exchange of documents and adjourned the matter to a date next February.
It is likely a date will be fixed for the hearing of the actions later in 2020.