RHA Truck Cartel Legal Action

Apr 03 | 2023

The RHA (Road Haulage Association) has been leading legal action against truck manufacturers for the overcharging of vehicles. Following a violation of EU competition rules, truck manufacturers were fined a total of £3.4 billion in 2016.

Steven MeyerhoffAs a result, the RHA has been working with Backhouse Jones (solicitors) to get operators compensation for buying or leasing HGVs with artificially inflated prices. The case represents an action on behalf of all truck operators whether they are RHA members or not. It is free to join the case and there is no financial risk. Royal Mail recently won a similar case against DAF, boosting morale for the RHA legal camp.

In an interview for the RHA’s RoadwayLive, Steven Meyerhoff, one of the RHA’s representatives on the case from Backhouse Jones, provided an update on progress so far on the legal battle.

He explained the latest position.  “In June 2022, we were granted the first ever opt-in collective proceedings order to pursue the claim on behalf of more than 17,000 truck operators. Unsurprisingly, several manufacturers have appealed the decision. UKTC, who are rival applicants, have also submitted appeals on various grounds. On 7 February, 2023 there was a case management conference before the Court of Appeal to resolve a host of applications to be considered, including one from the RHA that the matter be heard promptly given the delay. The Court has listed the appeal to be heard the week commencing 9 May, 2023.”

Stephen said that the Royal Mail winning its case against DAF was a positive judgement.  “If they’d found there was no overcharge, we’d probably be scratching our heads,” he said. “It has certainly improved morale because it demonstrates the first time in the UK courts one of the manufacturers has been found to have overcharged operators for trucks they have bought or leased.”

“DAF have challenged the litigation funding agreements,” said Stephen. “They lost at the Competition Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal (sitting as the Divisional Court), and they are now taking it to the Supreme Court. For the litigation funding industry, it’s massive because all the other collective action cases except for ours in court are on an opt-out basis which means that those affected by the infringement haven’t taken any positive steps to join the claim and might not even know about it. If DAF win, it could cause major issues in the litigation funding industry.”

How long is the legal process likely to last?  Stephen said that, although he remains confident, he doesn’t expect a trial date before 2025, if it gets that far.  But he did expect a settlement. “From the manufacturer’s perspective, they’re still trying to knock out claims or reduce the size and the value of claims. However, I think once they’ve exhausted that process we’re coming to trial – I think they’ll come to the negotiating table eventually. I wouldn’t anticipate a settlement in the next 12 months, but you never know!”

The RHA is the custodian of the action, they are the claimant. The trade association has brought the action on behalf of the whole industry, not just its own members. The book isn’t shut yet so people can still sign up. Find out more here.

Photo: Stephen Meyerhoff.