Today, 12 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, for which the European Commission has imposed fines of several billion Euros. The Commission’s investigation revealed that the Truck producers had engaged in a cartel relating to coordinating prices. The infringement covered the entire EEA and lasted 14 years.
As part of a settlement procedure, the Truck manufacturers (except Scania) have accepted the Commission’s findings. Therefore, the Court does not allow them to question the Commission’s decision. According to the Court, it is not appropriate for the Truck manufacturers to acknowledge facts in the settlement procedure with the Commission, while questioning the same facts in these proceedings.
The Court also dismisses the defence of the Truck manufacturers that, in essence, the cartel would only have concerned the exchange of information and that no agreements would have been made. According to the Court, there was coordination and targeted agreements have been made. The Court neither accepts the Truck manufacturers’ defence that they would not have implemented the agreements made.
Furthermore, the Truck manufacturers alleged that the cartel has not resulted in any damages whatsoever. They acknowledge that information has been exchanged, but that would not have resulted in higher prices.
The Court, however, finds that the Truck manufacturers have not convincingly answered the question as to what could then have been the purpose of the information exchange. The Court fails to see why a Truck manufacturer would, out of sheer interest, share information about its future market behaviour with its competitors without getting something beneficial in return. That something was in this case information about the future market behaviour of its competitors, which information was exchanged with the purpose of coordinating that market behaviour. That the information exchange has benefited the Truck producers seems obvious. The cartel has been active for many years and none of the Truck manufacturers has left the cartel early.
Hence, the Truck manufacturers’ defence that no party that has procured Trucks has or can have incurred any damages is also dismissed by the Court.
For more information, please contact Theodoor Verheij, who represents claimants in this case.