On 19 July 2016, the European Commission imposed a EUR 2.93 billon fine on five major European truck manufacturers for colluding on pricing and passing on the costs of compliance with environmental standards to consumers. This is the highest fine ever imposed by the Commission with respect to a single cartel.
In January 2011, the Commission carried out unannounced inspections after truck manufacturer MAN applied for leniency, thus avoiding a EUR 1.2 billion fine. The other four companies, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF agreed to settle the case with the Commission. Under the Commission's settlement procedure, companies benefit from a 10% fine reduction if they acknowledge their participation in the infringement and accept liability for their conduct. The investigation will continue for Scania, since the company has decided not to settle the matter.
The companies engaged in infringing behavior consisting of three elements: (i) price coordination at the factory level of trucks; (ii) agreements to pass on costs for emission reduction technologies to customers; and (iii) collusion on the timing for the introduction of emission reduction technologies.
In addition to the fines imposed by the Commission, the companies face civil damages claims. Plaintiff law firms and litigation funding companies have already announced their intention of filing proceedings on behalf of business who bought trucks from these manufacturers during the cartel period.
This article was published in the Competition Law Newsletter of August 2016. Other articles in this newsletter:
- Court of Justice clarifies the legality of royalty payments in the event of revocation or non-infringement of the licensed patent
- General Court confirms fines imposed on the basis of economic continuity in maritime hose cartel
- European Commission imposes record cartel fine on truck manufacturers for price fixing
- European Commission deems support measures in favour of Dutch football clubs in line with State aid rules
- Dutch District Court ruled that parent companies cannot be held liable for damages arising from antitrust infringements committed by their subsidiaries
- ACM lowered fines in the pepper cartel case
- Dutch Supreme Court confirms the availability of a passing-on defence in antitrust damages litigation
- Brussels Court of Appeal rules that concerted lobbying efforts of cement producers do not breach competition law
- Belgian competition authority upholds licence refusal to football club White Star
Source: Competition Law Newsletter August 2016