Third-party funder and “biggest ever ATE policy” backs £4bn truck collective action

Trucks: compensation of £6,000 per vehicle sought

Third-party litigation funder Therium Capital Management is backing a £4bn opt-in collection action being brought by the Road Haulage Association (RHA) against truck manufacturers found guilty of illegal price fixing.

The RHA said it has also secured “the largest tranche of after-the-event insurance that’s ever been underwritten”, although it has not revealed the size or provider.

Last July, the European Commission fined MAN, Volvo Group (which includes Volvo Trucks and Renault Truck), Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler, Iveco and DAF nearly €3bn (£2.6bn) for price fixing and other cartel activities between 1997 and 2011.

The RHA action before the Competition Appeal Tribunal will seek compensation for haulage and logistics companies that were bought or leased vehicles at inflated prices.

The association said “early indications” were that compensation could be in the region of £6,000 per truck and that 650,000 new trucks were sold during the 14-year period – this would be £3.9bn in total.

Therium will be paid either three times (or less, if the case settles early) of what it has cost to bring the claim, or a percentage of the money that the group wins, if that is more than the first option plus the return to the funder of the funder’s outlay.

Potential claimants have been told: “The percentage starts at 30% and reduces to 5% at higher overall compensation levels. There is also a third reduction in the funder’s fee if the case settles early.

“Based on conservative estimates of the level of damages and the number of trucks that will form part of the RHA’s claim, you should receive between 91% and 95% of any award or settlement. If the case settles early, you would receive an even higher portion of your award or settlement. To some extent, the RHA’s ability to deliver returns at this level will depend on the ultimate size of the claimant group.”

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “UK truck owners affected by the truck cartel have potentially paid too much for their lorries over a 14-year period and we’re determined to get a fair deal for them.

“This is a chance to get their compensation with no risk to their business or finances.”

Specialist transport law firm Backhouse Jones is running the case, along with Exchange Chambers and Brick Court Chambers.

The first stage will be to ask the tribunal to authorise the RHA to act as industry representative and to set out the basis on which operators can opt into the claim. The first hearing is expected to be later this year.

Although the RHA is bringing the action, non-RHA members are able to join.

We reported earlier this month that the first opt-out collective action had been withdrawn due to insufficient damages.

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