Daimler wins before the Federal Court of Justice

Bad prospects for victims of the truck cartel: The Karlsruhe judges overturn an earlier court ruling against Daimler, which many other customers refer to in their claims for damages.

For years, well-known commercial vehicle manufacturers, including Daimler, have illegally negotiated prices with one another.

IThis week, the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on a case in the so-called truck cartel for the first time. The Cartel Senate in Karlsruhe approved a revision of the commercial vehicle manufacturer Daimler and overturned an earlier judgment of the Higher Regional Court of Stuttgart. The written reasons for the decision are not yet available. But in their announcement, the federal judges assumed legal errors in the lower court. This means that the proceedings will start all over again, explained the lawyers at the Gleiss Lutz law firm, who represent Daimler in the antitrust claims for damages (Ref .: KZR 35/19).

In April 2019, the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court had found the plaintiff, a construction company from Lower Saxony, right. In the claim “in principle”, the Senate stated at the time that the commercial vehicles had been affected by an antitrust violation and that damage was likely to have occurred as a result. With a view to the earlier case law of the BGH, the judges in Stuttgart argued that a cartel ultimately served to increase profits, and there is a high probability that those involved would hold on to it for years because it could achieve higher prices.

Daimler argued that the court had made no statement about the possible damage and how much it should be. One was still convinced that the customer had not suffered any damage, it said in a statement. This first higher court ruling in the truck cartel, on which many plaintiffs relied, no longer has any validity after Daimler’s successful appeal. The case has to be negotiated again by another Senate in Stuttgart.

A few years ago, the EU Commission imposed fines of almost four billion euros for the illegal price fixing. According to their findings, the truck manufacturers MAN, Daimler, Volvo / Renault, DAF, Iveco and Scania exchanged information between 1997 and 2011. Daimler had to pay the highest individual fine of around one billion euros. As a key witness, MAN got away with impunity. Scania did not want to accept the fine and is still fighting with the Commission in the courts in Luxembourg.