Irish hauliers take dozens of cases against European truck makers

High Court actions follow Brussels inquiry into truck manufacturers’ cartel

Dozens of damages claims by Irish hauliers against Europe's biggest truck manufacturers over alleged anti-competitive practices have come before the High Court.

The claims follow determination by the European Commission in July, 2016, that five major truck manufacturers – MAN, Volvo Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF – had broken EU anti-trust laws.

The commission found the truck makers had colluded for 14 years on pricing and passing on the costs of compliance with stricter emission rules to their customers.

The commission said its investigation, which began in 2011, found the manufacturers had co-ordinated prices at a gross level for medium and heavy trucks in the European Economic Area and passed on to buyers the costs of emission technologies required to comply with strict European emission standards.


Record fines totalling €2.93 billion were imposed on the companies. MAN avoided a fine because the company had revealed the existence of the cartel to the commission.

As a result of the findings, dozens of Irish hauliers, represented by Paul McGarry SC and solicitor Evan O'Dwyer, have taken separate actions for damages to the High Court over alleged breach of Irish and EU competition laws. The actions are believed to be the first of their type in Europe arising out of the commission's findings.

The cases have been taken against various truck manufacturers and Ireland-based dealerships that sold the vehicles involved.

The cases include claims for exemplary and punitive damages for negligence and breach of contract. They also involve claims for compensation under the Competition Act and under Article 101 of the Treaty of the European Union.

Prohibited activities

It is also alleged the defendants participated in an unlawful cartel and engaged in activities prohibited by the 2002-14 Competition Acts.

When the cases were briefly mentioned before Mr Justice Max Barrett at the High Court on Tuesday, Mr McGarry said about 30 individual claims have been lodged and some 40-50 further actions are pending.

Counsel said proceedings have also been taken against Scania, the Swedish truck manufacturer. While no finding has been make against Scania, an investigation by the commission into the company was ongoing, counsel said.

Because of complex ownership arrangements where many trucks were subject to lease agreements, proceedings had also been brought against a number of financial institutions, counsel said.

Legal representatives for the institutions, including AIB Bank of Ireland and Lombard Finance, said they did not know why they are parties to the actions.

The judge agreed to adjourn the cases to late April to allow the sides progress the actions. If arrangements can be worked out between the parties, it is expected the cases will be admitted to the competition court list on that date.