BERLIN (Reuters) -- Berlin has called in an international law firm to pursue damages from the Toll Collect consortium for delays to Germany's troubled truck toll scheme, Financial Times Deutschland daily reported on Tuesday.
The government is negotiating with the Toll Collect consortium made up of DaimlerChrysler, Deutsche Telekom and France's Cofiroute, over liabilities from the delayed launch.
The newspaper quoted a spokesman for Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe as saying: "We have engaged an independent law firm (Linklaters & Alliance)... We are assuming that we will achieve a fair balance of interests."
The spokesman said the Transport Ministry hoped to proceed without formal arbitration proceedings.
No-one from the ministry was immediately available to comment on the report.
The satellite-based toll system was due to be launched on August 31 this year but has faced repeated delays and technical problems and is not expected to start before spring 2004.
London-based law firm Linklaters & Alliance had been examining the government's rights for the last two weeks and said there was a good chance the Transport Ministry could claim compensation for lost toll revenues of around 156 million euros per month, the newspaper reported without citing a source from the law firm.
Stolpe, who has faced calls to resign over the delays, said last week the conditions in the government's contract with Toll Collect contain liability provisions that would add to pressure on the operators to get the system working quickly.
He has said the government did not want to walk away from the contract with Toll Collect but would reserve the right to do so if no agreement could be reached.
Toll Collect developed the satellite-based toll system which uses laser and mobile telecoms technology to track the movement of trucks around Germany's highways.
Stolpe has accused the consortium of providing misleading information about the progress of the system, a charge the companies reject. If it were found to have misled the ministry it could be liable to pay the government compensation.
Linklaters would advise the government how to proceed by the end of the month, the newspaper said.