Lawyers for truck manufacturers accused of colluding on prices appeared in Dutch court this week to fend off damages claims, warning that the Netherlands is in danger of becoming a “claims paradise”, reports Mlex.
After receiving fines from the European Commission totaling nearly 3 billion euros, truck manufactures have been targeted by an onslaught of litigation throughout Europe. “[L]awsuits for compensation have been filed in several European countries including Hungary, Spain, Ireland, Germany and the UK. But the Netherlands is emerging as a choice jurisdiction for many because of its willingness to accept grouped claims.”
In proceedings before the Amsterdam District Court, “a lawyer for the truck makers said the claimants in today’s group — one of several awaiting trial — represented more than 2,000 purchasers of trucks and almost 20,000 vehicles, but only five percent of those lorries had actually been purchased by Dutch companies. Claims from all over Europe were being brought in the Netherlands.”
A similar bundled claim was rejected in Germany earlier this year.
“These conditions mean the Dutch system has a kind of ‘magnet effect’ for claims with a large number of cases creating congestion. The Netherlands ‘cannot bear the brunt’ for class actions in Europe, they said.”
The lawyers for the defendants accused the claims foundation behind the case, Cartel Damage Claims or CDC, of “forum shopping” and “using the ‘claims paradise’ of the Netherlands to take the advantages but not the burdens. They want to collect as many claims as possible that explicitly don’t have to be connected to the Netherlands.”
Many of the collective claims against the truck manufacturers throughout Europe are backed by third party litigation funding. There are at least two dozen third party litigation funders active on Dutch soil. The Netherlands is a particularly attractive destination for litigation funding because of the availability for opt-out class actions for damages and the friendliness of courts to foreign claimants and proceedings in English.
The availability of capital to bring more and more claims and openness of Dutch courts is leading to this litigation haven.