Cartels, whilst yielding illicit profits at others’ expense, are a blight on fair competition and those who are caught operating them reap a legal whirlwind. That was certainly so in the case of five truck manufacturing groups who faced over 160 compensation claims by disgruntled clients, with more such claims coming in on a daily basis.
The European Commission found in July 2016 that the groups had, over a 14-year period, colluded in respect of pricing medium and heavy trucks in the European Economic Area. They had also colluded on the timing and the passing on of costs associated with the introduction of emission technologies.
That decision triggered a plethora of claims against the groups by customers from all corners of the EU who claimed to have overpaid for trucks, or otherwise suffered losses, as a result of the cartel. Eight such actions had been launched in England and Wales, some of them involving a very large number of claimants.
The full extent of the litigation emerged as the High Court gave directions concerning disclosure of thousands of documents from the Commission’s files regarding cartel meetings, pricing decisions and other matters. The disclosure would be made into a confidentiality ring and steps taken to weed out irrelevant material.