Test lawsuits for the reimbursement of unlawful truck tolls filed

In February 2024, Hausfeld filed three test 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 Hausfeld signed in summer 2023 after intensive negotiations with the responsible Federal Office for Logistics and Mobility ( Federal Office for Logistics and Mobility , BALM ), in which they agreed that the legally binding decisions in the three test lawsuits will apply to all 15,000 companies represented by Hausfeld.

As a result, the truck toll levied in the past can be legally challenged efficiently and it will avoid clogging up the judicial system with thousands of individual lawsuits, effectively saving the judiciary time and costs.

Background of the lawsuits

On 28 October 2020, the ECJ ruled that the inclusion of the costs for traffic police as part of the German truck toll charges in 2010 and 2011, violated the European Infrastructure Costs Directive which made the toll unlawful (Case C-321/19).

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

In 2021, in reaction to the ECJ's decision, the German legislator retrospectively reduced the toll regarding the costs of traffic police for the period from the decision on 28 October 2020 to 30 September 2021. For the period prior to that time, the legislator invoked " protection of legitimate expectations" and has so far refused to reimburse the police costs included within the toll. From October 1, 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 a renowned economic transport expert and found that the toll has been calculated unlawfully since its introduction on 1 January 2005. In addition, Hausfeld assesses that the statutory toll reduction for the period from 28 October 2020 to 20 September 2021 is too low. 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 total some 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. If only the share of the toll based on traffic police costs were to be reimbursed, the amount would still be over EUR 330 million.

The extent to which the plaintiffs and Hausfeld's other clients are entitled to toll reimbursement and interest claims for the period from January 1, 2005 to September 30, 2021 will be clarified in court through the use of the test lawsuits.