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Adnams seeks compensation from companies accused of truck price-fixing

PUBLISHED: 16:51 15 November 2018

Adnams distribution centre

Adnams distribution centre

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The Southwold brewery Adnams is seeking damages as the main claimant in a group action lawsuit which was filed this week.

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Adnams alleges that it is the victim of fraudulent price-fixing by major truck manufacturers over a 14-year period.

The legal action is being taken, along with 26 further claimants, through the London law firm Edwin Coe, and the total claim size at the moment is for £10m.

As well as Adnams, other claimants seeking compensation in the same lawsuit include the national budget retail chain Poundland, and more locally, the skip hire, recycling and waste company GBN Services in Chelmsford and CSH Environmental recycling centre in Wormingford, both of whom have been contacted for comment.

The claim stems from a European Commission ruling in 2016 against five truck manufacturers - MAN, Volvo/Renault, Daimler/Mercedes, Iveco and DAF - which found they had operated a price fixing cartel.

The European Commission fined these European truck manufacturers €2.926 billion for price fixing and other cartel activities between 1997 and 2011.

There has since been a similar finding made against a sixth manufacturer, Scania. Together, the manufacturers hold over 80% of the market.

According to a spokesman for Edwin Coe, some 10 million trucks were sold across the EU between 1997 and 2011, and each one may have been overpriced by up to £10,000 as a result of the cartel.

Zahira Hussain of Edwin Coe said: “This cartel was an EU-wide scandal for many years and affected thousands of UK businesses from PLCs to smaller enterprises.”

Adnams and the other claimants are seeking an damages, plus interest, for goods vehicles purchased during the so-called infringement period of 14 years.

A spokesman for the brewer said: “We purchased vehicles from those companies during that time, and it appears that we should have been paying less for those vehicles. We have suffered a loss as a result, and we are now looking to make that loss good.”

Although the claim was lodged just this week, Adnams said it had been in discussions with Edwin Coe for more than a year.

“We estimate that the number of vehicles that we purchased in the affected years which may have been affected by the price fixing is in the region of 30,” she said.

The Road Haulage Association has a separate legal action underway for its members.

Edwin Coe is calling on any business which purchased, leased or outsourced trucks weighing six tonnes or more between 1997 and 2012 to join the lawsuit, which will sit in the Competition Appeal Tribunal. It said it had secured litigation funding, meaning it could bring the claim to the competition appeals tribunal on a no-win, no-fee arrangement.

Edwin Coe is now encouraging additional businesses in the retail, construction, farming, catering, brewing, waste-management and outsourcing sectors to sign up, as the firm claims that it likely they also overpaid for their vehicles.

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