Hans Bousie / 27 Sep 2017
Scania, one of the six large truck manufacturers was fined by the European Commission today, 27 September 2017, for € 880 million for participating in the so called trucks cartel. Earlier, on 19 July 2016, the other five participants in the same cartel were fined as well after reaching a settlement with the European Commission. Because of their participation in the investigation of the European Commission the other truck manufacturers, Daimler, DAF, Iveco, Volvo/Renault and MAN received discounts under the leniency notice and the settlement notice on their fines. MAN as the whistle blower even received a 100% reduction. With todays fine added to it, the European Commission sets a record fine of a staggering 3.8 billion Euros.
Because the other five truck manufacturers have reached a settlement with the Commission, their case is closed, meaning no appeals are pending. Because Scania did not cooperate with the Commission, it took more than a year extra to complete the case against Scania. Scania was found guilty of fixing the prices of trucks and colluding on passing on the costs of new technologies to meet stricter emission rules.
The Commission in its press release expresses her relieve on ending her investigation in this especially long lasting cartel (over fourteen years), covering over 90% of all truck sales in Europe in the period of 1997 until 2011.
That Scania did not cooperate with the Commission has a threefold effect. In the first place the decision of the Commission against Scania is open for appeal, and we are pretty sure Scania is about to appeal the decision. In the second place since Scania did not comply, her fine was not reduced, neither under the leniency nor under the settlement notice, thus resulting in this massive fine of € 880 Million, only topped by the fine of over 1 Billion Euros by Daimler and that was even after a 40% reduction.
In the third and not in the last place, the effect on follow on damages litigation. Over the last five years, there has been a steep rise in damages litigation following cartel decisions by the European Commission. These so called follow on cases can lean on tow presumptions. The first being that the Case law of the Court of Justice and Council Regulation 1/2003 confirm that in cases for national courts, a Commission decision constitutes binding proof that the behavior took place and was illegal. In the second place following the so called Cartel Damages Directive cartels are supposed to cause harm and thereby result in the obligation to pay damages.
So for all six manufacturers there is this binding decision. But Scania still has a chance to escape, she alone can and will appeal the decision against her. Nevertheless follow on cases have already been filed in Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands already and there are more to come. The truck manufacturers are up for another battle.