The courts dismiss two out of three complaints against the car cartel


On September 27, the Mercantile Court number 5 of Madrid, issued the first conviction against the car cartel, in which one of those affected was obliged to compensate one of those affected with 1,147 euros, 5% of what he paid for his car, despite claiming 15% of the total. What seemed like a victory, is actually a small victory, and shortly before and shortly after there have been court rulings that dismiss the resources of citizens or only partially estimate them with compensation percentages well below what would be ‘normal’ .

Waiting for a barrage of complaints, which will turn this cartel, which has harmed ten million buyers, into the most sued, the first resolutions clearly benefit the brands and show that the victims go to Justice with the duties without to do and, above all and fundamentally, without credible expert reports. This and errors such as denouncing dealers instead of brands have knocked down ten of the 14 lawsuits already resolved, assures Information Andoni de la Llosaexpert in competition law and cartel-related litigation in Redi Lawyers.

A partial estimate, which compensates with 5%, is not a success, because the percentage agreed upon by the cartels is much higher. This is how the European Union, which places this benefit at 20%, and confirms it from De la Llosa, who admits that judges, when they see a sufficient basis, opt for 10% -half-, but it is not exceptional that they demarcate themselves by the conservative 5 % or that they even see no grounds and dismiss the appeal. The lawyer, whose firm has already brought together 60,000 victims and hopes to go to court with a class action -unusual in Spain- shows how transcendental it is to go to court with an expert opinion.

Associations, platforms and law firms multiply individual resources, a valid option, but with negative responses

The associations and platforms, behind which are law firms from various fields, multiply individual resources, a valid option that is having negative responses in the courts. From Redi they point out that a good preparation can have good results, whether it is an individual or collective lawsuit, but they point to their model, Assigns, new in Spain that allows to group related demands in a single legal action. The claim is on behalf of the firm, which fully assumes the costs and risks of the claim, including costs. This formula makes it possible to have a photograph of the entire market, which facilitates a extensive databaseWoe to the situation, and a more perfect expert opinion.

Regarding the expert opinions, Frank Rodríguez Trouwborst, general director of Technical Consultants, a company based in Madrid and specialized in this type of report on cartels -it has prepared 6,000 on the truck case alone-, assures these documents must “incorporate three comparative methods recommended by the EC Damage Quantification Guide, in addition to having been prepared by ten professionals between engineers and economists”. Without those requirements, there is little you can do to get good compensation.

Among the latest judicial developments that affect buyers of vehicles from brands that violated anti-competition regulations by creating a cartel for the exchange of “secret, future and strategic” information, according to the National Commission for Markets and Competition (CNMC)there are territorial jurisdiction, the new limitation periods, the improper solidarity of the offenders or the courts that are competent and those that are not in this matter related to competition.

The Supreme Court has confirmed through an order some relevant issues regarding the car cartel, including some of territorial jurisdiction

Last June, a court in Valencia issued an order reaffirming the territorial jurisdiction of the Commercial Courts of Valencia to process one of the first lawsuits filed in relation to the so-called car cartel. The resolution rejected the defendant’s position to refer the matter to Madrid, the place where the automobile company has its registered office. The magistrate considers that he is competent to process the lawsuit in Valencia by reason of the domicile of one of the plaintiffs, given his status as a consumer.

Meanwhile, last month, the Technical Office of the supreme court confirmed through an order some relevant issues regarding the car cartel, including some of territorial jurisdiction. In an order dated October 13, the High Court ruled on the decision of a court in Zaragoza to refrain from a matter related to the cartel because the defendant had its headquarters in Barcelona. The Chamber determines that the Zaragoza court improperly rejected its jurisdiction and should have given the opportunity to choose one of the two competent judicial districts. In cases where the plaintiff has the status of consumer, the elective jurisdiction governs, clarifies the Supreme Court.

When is the deadline to claim the ‘car cartel’

Meanwhile, last June, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) published a ruling regarding the truck cartel in which it confirmed that those affected have up to five years to claim the damages caused by the cartelists. The decision, despite having to do with a specific cartel, can be extrapolated to cars or milk, according to Redi Abogados. Practically all Spanish courts have considered that claims for damages against cartels prescribe within a period of 1 year, unless the cartel occurred after May 2017. Now the CJEU has confirmed that, even if the cartel occurred before May 2017 , the term to claim damages is not one year, but five.


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