The UK’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) has been given the green light by the Court of Appeal to proceed with truck cartel damages action on behalf of new and used truck purchasers. The Court of Appeal delivered its judgment on 25 July, 2023, dismissing the appeals brought by UKTC and the truck manufacturers DAF and MAN.
The appellants had been seeking to overturn the judgment of the Competition Appeal Tribunal (Tribunal) to award the RHA the first ever opt-in CPO (Collective Proceedings order) on the grounds that there was an irreconcilable conflict within the group of claimants (between those who purchased new vehicles and those who purchased used vehicles) which meant that the RHA should not be authorised to bring the claim.
Having heard arguments on 9, 10, and 11 May, 2023, the Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeals. As a result, the RHA can continue with its collective claim on behalf of new and used truck purchasers. One point on which the Court of Appeal did, however, disagree with the Tribunal was the point at which the conflict between new and used truck purchasers needs to be addressed. While the Tribunal was content not to have the conflict addressed until later in the proceedings, the Court of Appeal determined that the conflict needs to be dealt with now and before the CPO is actually made. Moreover, to deal with the conflict, the Court of Appeal has said that the RHA must create a subgroup within the RHA to represent those who purchased used trucks and that the subgroup must have a different legal team and different economist from the legal team and economist appointed by the RHA to deal with the overall claim. The Court of Appeal has further suggested that it may be necessary for the subgroup to have a separate funder funding the claim for the used truck purchasers.
Richard Smith, Managing Director of the RHA welcomed the decision saying, “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeals and are hopeful that the RHA can now move the case forward with the Competition Appeal Tribunal and obtain compensation for all those operators who have joined the claim.”
Steven Meyerhoff, Director at Backhouse Jones who represents the RHA commented, “The Court of Appeal was right to reject the various appeal points raised by the OEMs and UKTC. On the conflict issue, the Court of Appeal has effectively asked the RHA to put in place the safeguards the RHA offered to the Competition Appeal Tribunal at the time the Tribunal was hearing the RHA’s CPO application. The legal team will now work towards putting the safeguards in place with a view to progressing the case with the Tribunal as soon as reasonably practicable.”
Photo: Richard Smith.