Model lawsuits for the reimbursement of unlawful truck tolls filed

In February 2024, Hausfeld filed three model lawsuits against the Federal Republic of Germany with the Administrative Court of Cologne in order to enforce reimbursement claims due to unlawfully levied truck tolls for over 15,000 transport and logistics companies.

The lawsuits are based on agreements that Hausfeld signed in summer 2023 after intensive negotiations with the responsible Federal Office for Logistics and Mobility (Bundesamt für Logistik und Mobilität, BALM). According to the agreements, the legally binding decisions in the three model lawsuits apply to all 15,000 companies represented by Hausfeld.

As a result, the legality of the truck toll levied in the past can be clarified efficiently and years of burdening the judiciary with thousands of individual lawsuits can be avoided.

Background of the lawsuits

On 28 October 2020, the ECJ ruled that the inclusion of the costs for traffic police in the German truck toll in 2010 and 2011 violated the European infrastructure costs directive and therefore the toll was unlawful in this respect (Case C-321/19).

In response,, more than 15,000 companies from the transport sector based in Germany and Europe have engaged Hausfeld to enforce reimbursement claims due to unlawfully levied truck tolls and to suspend the statute of limitations. The majority of the approximately 8,000 German clients are small and medium-sized transport companies that are significantly burdened by the toll.

In 2021, the German legislator reacted to the ECJ's decision and retrospectively reduced the toll with regard to the costs of traffic police for the period from the decision on 28 October 2020 to 30 September 2021. In respect of prior period, the legislator is invoking "protection of legitimate expectations" and has so far refused to reimburse the police costs incurred with the toll. From 1 October 2021, new toll rates apply, which no longer include traffic police costs.

Hausfeld examined the German truck toll and the underlying route cost appraisals in detail with the support of a renowned economic expert specializing in transport and found that the toll has been calculated unlawfully overall since its introduction on 1 January 2005. In addition, the statutory toll reduction for the period from 28 October 2020 to 20 September 2021 is too low according to Hausfeld's assessment. Finally, Hausfeld believes that all resulting reimbursement claims should be subject to interest.

Against this background, Hausfeld has asserted comprehensive toll reimbursement claims including interest for its clients, which go far beyond the traffic police costs. The reimbursement claims amount to around EUR 7.5 billion for the period from January 2017 to the end of September 2021 alone, which corresponds to around 25% of the German toll volume. Even if only the share of the toll based on traffic police costs were to be reimbursed, the reimbursement volume would still be over EUR 330 million.

Within the model lawsuits, the extent to which the plaintiffs and Hausfeld´s other clients are entitled to toll reimbursement and interest claims for the period from 1 January 2005 to 30 September 2021 will be finally clarified in court.