Hausfeld, Cuatrecasas all aboard in rail giants’ carbon cartel claim

Litigation boutique Hausfeld and Spanish firm Cuatrecasas Gonçalves Pereira have been jointly instructed by Europe’s largest rail operators to bring a multimillion-pound damages claim against ­companies involved in a ­carbon and graphite cartel.

The claimants, which include the UK’s Angel Trains, Germany’s Deutsche Bahn and Spain’s Metro, allege they were victims of a cartel that overcharged for carbon and graphite products used for transferring electricity in train motors.

Monckton Chambers’ Jon Turner QC has been instructed to lead Rob Williams of the same set in the claim, which has been filed at the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).

The defendants, named as Hoffman, Le Carbone-Lorraine (now Mersen), Morgan Crucible, Schunk and SGL, are alleged to have been involved in the cartel for 11 years between 1988 and 1999. The companies were fined e101m (£84m) by the European Commission for their participation in the cartel in 2003.

Morgan Crucible received immunity from fines for being the first to denounce the illegal behaviour to the Commission.

Hausfeld partner Anthony Maton said: “This action is brought by many of Europe’s leading rail companies and is probably the most significant claim of its kind brought in Europe. The rail companies seek restitution in respect of damage suffered over many years from a long-running and hard-core cartel.”

Hausfeld has repeatedly attempted to bring follow-on cartel actions through English and Welsh courts. In November Mr Justice Mummery rejected the firm’s attempt to bring a US-style class action though the Court of Appeal, stating that the case was “fatally flawed”.

In that case Maton instructed 20 Essex Street’s Iain Milligan QC to ­represent flower shippers Emerald Supplies and Southern Glass House Produce in their claim against British Airways. The claimants sought damages in respect of losses they claimed to have suffered as a result ofan alleged cartel in the ­provision of airfreight ­services.

Hausfeld is also representing motor giant Volvo on its High Court claim against Pilkington Group, almost three years after the car glass manufacturer was fined for price-fixing (The Lawyer, 2 August 2010).