November deadline looms as LGA co-ordinates legal action against vehicle supplier cartel

Councils have until November to initiate actions for potentially millions of pounds worth of damages against vehicle suppliers found in 2016 to have operated a cartel.

The Local Government Association is co-ordinating action but was unable to say how many councils were involved or the sums being claimed.

Wakefield Council has mentioned the issue in its annual statement of accounts, which said: “The council has joined with other organisations to make a claim against a cartel which supplied vehicles to the council between 1997 and 2011.

“The claim which includes overcharges and damages for emission technology losses has a potential value to the council of up to £2.38m.”

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Wakefield’s chief legal officer Gillian Marshall said: “The legal case has not yet started but it must commence by November 2020.

“It is a class action being co-ordinated by the Local Government Association on behalf of many local authorities.”

The LGA said that in July 2016 the European Commission fined a group of truck manufacturers in excess of €2.9bn for price fixing and other cartel activities.

An LGA statement said: “Given the significant cartel period and the likely losses suffered by purchasers or leases of medium and heavy trucks which includes some local authorities, the LGA is looking into the possibility of mounting damages claims on behalf of its member authorities.”

The Commission said in July 2016 that MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler, Iveco, and DAF broke EU cartel rules on pricing and on passing on the costs of compliance with stricter emission rules.

MAN was not fined because it revealed the existence of the cartel, but the other companies were.

The Commission said at the time that any person or firm affected by anti-competitive behaviour could seek damages, and that a commission decision constituted binding proof that the behaviour took place and was illegal.

Mark Smulian

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