Cement cartel success boosts UK claims

Cement cartel success boosts UK claims
Published: 22 May 2008

Investigators gathering evidence over alleged cement price fixing in the UK have been boosted by Heidelberg, Lafarge, Holcim, Cemex and three other cement producers losing their court bid in Germany to throw out a lawsuit over a price-fixing cartel. The German lawsuit, filed by Cartel Damage Claims (CDC), is seeking over 350 million euros - including interest at 8% - in damages for around 35 unnamed companies after a 2003 investigation found the six cement firms had colluded on quotas and geographical regions in a cartel stretching back to the 1970s. The British Aggregates Association (BAA) has charged CDC with investigating cement cartels in the UK.  BAA director Robert Durward  said today that the result was very good news.

In a statement the Dusseldorf court wrote: "As far as the admissibility of the claim is concerned, the claimant has provided sufficient evidence for its calculation and the minimum damage it claims." Since the decision on Wednesday, other firms in Germany have come forward joining those seeking damages.

CDC’s Seamus Maye hopes this decision will now help fuel further action in the UK.   "The producers claim that this is only the beginning of the action but having already been convicted of the original offence they are on thin ice. We expect that the German court vindication of CDC’s methodology, coupled with the recent Office of Fair Trading (OFT) offer of "up to £100,000" for whistleblowers will greatly help in bringing UK cement prices into line with the continent."