Deutsche Bahn sues truck manufacturers

Deutsche Bahn is taking the war to both its suppliers and its competitors by suing truck manufacturers for losses it says it incurred as a result of their uncompetitive practices. The state-owned rail operator and large logistics provider is leading a group of 40 complainants against a number of truck manufacturers who were found to have engaged in anti-competitive practices by the European Union.

A statement from Deutsche Bahn issued yesterday, said that it had filed a lawsuit “with the Munich Regional Court against DAF, Daimler, Iveco, MAN and Volvo/Renault, the corporations involved in the truck cartel. DB is enforcing its damage claims together with the German Armed forces. They have also been severely affected by the cartel which has existed for 14 years. In addition to the Armed Forces, more than 40 corporations from a variety of German industry sectors have assigned their claims to DB. These include German airport operators who are members of the German Airports Association ADV as well as major trading and logistics corporations.”

The scale of the claim, Deutsche Bahn states, will be “for at least 35,000 trucks affected by the cartel, involving a purchasing volume of far more than two billion euros. At DB Schenker alone – the largest land freight forwarder in Europe – several thousand trucks have been affected by the cartel. Renowned competition economists are currently determining the amount of damage.”

The truck manufacturers concerned have already paid a fine of €3.8bn levied by the European Union competition authorities.

It might be suggested that Deutsche Bahn has mixed motives for its actions. On the one hand it is a state-owned rail freight operator under intense competition from road freight providers. It has often been an opponent of the trucking sector, for example in its vocal opposition to larger trucks. Of course, through its subsidiary Schenker, it is also a very large operator of trucking services, whilst in its contract logistics business it is a leading provider to many of the companies that it is suing.

These cases are quite common. They are largely ‘fishing expeditions’ driven by financial and legal opportunism of the complaining party. The likelihood is that in a few years’ time the issue will be resolved in private with a relatively modest amount of money being paid.   

Source: Transport Intelligence, December 21, 2017

Author: Thomas Cullen


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