The Spanish Courts order truck manufacturers to disclose information for compensation requests
The requests for the disclosure of information arose in respect of a truck manufacturer cartel, which the European Commission ruled on in July 2016. The companies involved in this cartel, and which were convicted, were Volvo/ Renault, Daimler, Iveco and DAF.
The accusations against this cartel were based on price fixing and gross increases in the prices of medium and heavy trucks carried out in the European Economic Area. The cartel was also accused of unlawfully increasing prices and disproportionately burdening truck purchasers.
After the European Commission had sanctioned the truck cartel in 2016, everyone rushed to the courts throughout Spain. Since then, there have been compensation requests against six manufacturers filed by all types of shipping and logistics companies.
In July 2019, four Spanish Commercial Courts partly upheld the requests for the disclosure of information filed by many claimants seeking to be compensated for damage caused to them by the truck cartel operating throughout the European Economic Area.
The Courts of Bilbao, Valencia, Donostia/ San Sebástian and Logroño approved the disclosure of information relating to the prices of the trucks. On the contrary, they did not agree to order the accused to supply data on the excessive consumption of fuel. In addition, these Courts did not agree to ask the European Commission to given them access to the confidential decision delivered in July 2016.
The convictions were based on the exchange of sensitive information, setting a list of gross prices for medium and large trucks, and on the fact that the costs from the new rules on emissions have been borne by the clients for 14 years. MAN, another company involved, ended up not being convicted to pay the fine applied on having been the author of the complaint, but it could still be ordered to pay for the damage caused.
The Judges of the Bilbao and San Sebástian Courts agreed to order the truck manufacturers to supply the lists of medium and heavy trucks sold between January 1990 and June 2018. The Judges also ordered them to provide lists of gross prices for the same models and the total delivery costs.
In addition, the Judges of the Valencia and Logroño Courts considered the requests of the claimants to be excessive, and chose to limit them.
Despite ordering the disclosure of the lists of truck models and gross prices, they reduced the time period of the data to be supplied, which they considered to be excessive and unjustified. Thus, Dailmer and Iveco were ordered to provide lists only for the period 1992 to 2016.
The Judges also decided to the information relating to the models of trucks, and only allowed the disclosure of information on those models with similar features to those purchased by the claimants.
As regards the lists of gross prices, the Judges concluded that the information to be provided should be limited to the Spanish market.
The Judges of the Valencia and Logroño Courts considered that the supply of information relating to the total delivery costs would constitute an unnecessary and unjustified burden.
Based on the decision of the European Commission, all the Courts rejected the requests for the disclosure of information related to any delay in the introduction of emission technology. The European Commission concluded there was no damage caused by the excessive consumption of fuel, and the claimants did not manage to prove any connection between the issue of fuel and their orders.
The Judges of the Spanish Courts also decided to oppose access to the full text of the European Commission decision, on the understanding that it contained information that should be protected and, therefore, be kept confidential.
It should be emphasized that, in Portugal too, specific legislation was approved on the right to compensation due to infringements of competition law. Law nº 23/ 2018, of June 5, inter alia, allows third parties to access evidence produced by the Authorities, in order to support their claims. It is therefore possible for the situation in Spain to be reproduced shortly in Portugal.