In Germany, owners of Volkswagen diesel cars, equipped with pollution management software, have the right to demand compensation from the manufacturer, on Monday decided the highest German civil law.
German justice condemned Volkswagen on Monday, May 25, to partially replace a customer, who had bought a car equipped with a rigged diesel engine. This decision by the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, the Supreme Court
civil law, is expected to affect tens of thousands of proceedings, five years after the outbreak of this scandal.
By equipping their cars with software that could make them appear less polluting than they actually are, the German car group declared “conscious and systematic for several years”, the authorities “in terms of profitability”, Judge Stephan Seiters explained.
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Volkswagen will now “offer” memorable solutions to solve “a large part of the 60,000 individual procedures in progress”, the group said in a press release.
The judges of the German Federal Court (BGH) considered in particular that the purchase of a car equipped with a rigged engine constitutes damage in itself, even though the vehicle, which Volkswagen claimed, remained “useful”.
This is the first notable legal setback for the ticket in Germany, in this scandal that has thrown the German car industry, the pillar of the country’s economy, into a historic crisis from which it is still struggling to come out.
About EUR 750 million in compensation
The court was interested in the case of Herbert Gilbert, 65, who bought a used Volkswagen Sharan diesel in 2014, one of the 11 million vehicles that the manufacturer admitted in September 2015 to have put software under-estimating pollutant emissions.
By returning his vehicle to Volkswagen, the pensioner is entitled to a refund, but the latter “has to take into account” the use of the vehicle and therefore its loss of value over time, which precludes a full refund of the purchase price.
The decision comes after the end of an unprecedented trial in Germany in April, similar to an American “group action” involving hundreds of thousands of applicants.
Volkswagen spends at least EUR 750 million to compensate 235,000 customers under a friendly agreement, a sum that may seem small compared to the more than EUR 30 billion that the scandal has already cost the manufacturer, mainly in the United States.