Amsterdam District Court gives guidance on substantiation of cartel damages claims

Today, 15 May, the Amsterdam District Court rendered an important judgment in the cartel damages actions in respect of the Trucks cartel.

Several known European Truck producers colluded on Truck pricing and on passing on the costs of compliance with stricter emission rules. The infringement covered the entire EEA and lasted 14 years.

The European Commission has imposed record fines of several billion Euros in these cases. The Commission’s investigation revealed that the Truck producers had engaged in a Cartel relating to coordinating prices for medium and heavy trucks in the European Economic Area, the timing for the introduction of emission technologies, and the passing on to customers of the costs for the emission technologies.

In the procedure before the Amsterdam District court against the truck producers, the Amsterdam District Court dismisses the formal defence of the Truck producers in respect of the Claimants’ writs of summons. The Court finds that the writs of summons make sufficiently clear what the Claimants demand from the Truck producers, why they are entitled to the relief sought, and what the Truck producers should defend themselves against. This should be clear for the Truck producers as well, said the Court.

As to the substantiation of the cartel damages claims, the Amsterdam District Court refuses to dismiss the Claimants’ claims for the alleged lack thereof. The Court appreciates that the Claimants were forced to initiate legal proceedings in view of the possible prescription of the cartel damages claims, and could therefore issue rather straightforward writs of summons. The Court also understands that in view of the fact that the Cartel ended in 2011 and was only revealed by the Commission in 2016, information and documentation may no longer be available in respect of all Trucks involved.

To focus the discussion on the merits of the case rather than formal defences, the Amsterdam District Court would like the Claimants to provide more specific information in respect of the Trucks involved. However, the Court leaves it up to the Claimants what information they deem necessary to substantiate their claims.

The defence of the Trucks producers in respect of the assignments was also dismissed by the Amsterdam District Court. From the judgment it follows that it suffices to substantiate the assignments by providing the assignment documentation, and the Claimants have done so already in their writs of summons.

Jeroen van den Brande and Theodoor Verheij, who represent Claimants in this case, welcome the guidance given by the Amsterdam District Court in this judgment. They expect  that the judgment will get the case past the preliminary issues raised by the Truck producers, and focus on what this case is really about: the compensation for harm caused.

For more information, please contact Theodoor Verheij.