In the VW emissions scandal, the european court of justice (eugh) has strengthened the rights of consumers across europe.
After the ruling, injured parties do not necessarily have to take the car manufacturer to court in germany, where volkswagen has its headquarters. Instead, you can sue VW for damages in the country where you bought the car (case C-343/19).
The background is the case of 574 VW customers in austria who have assigned their claims to the osterreichischer verein fur konsumenteninformation (VKI). The latter sued volkswagen on his behalf before the regional court of klagenfurt for damages in the amount of 3.6 million euros. In addition, volkswagen must be held liable for all as yet unquantifiable and future damages.
The VKI argued that the customers had either not accepted the car at all or only at a price that was at least 30 percent lower if they had known about the manipulation. The market value and purchase price of the vehicles was significantly lower than the price paid due to the installed defeat devices.
Normally, under EU law, the courts of the country in which the defendant is domiciled or resident have jurisdiction. Volkswagen therefore argued that the klagenfurt court lacked international jurisdiction to hear the case. The austrian judges asked the eugh to interpret eu law.
The eugh has now ruled in principle that in cases such as the VW emissions scandal, there is an exception to the usual rules of procedure. The place of the causal event – i.E. The installation of the manipulation software – was in germany. However, the damage is only realized when a customer buys the car at a price that is higher than its actual value. In this case, the damage – a reduction in value due to the difference between the purchase price and the actual value as a result of the manipulation software – only occurred in austria.
The luxembourg judges also made it clear that volkswagen could have expected to be sued in those countries where the company sells the cars. The collective action brought by austrian consumers must now be decided by the court in klagenfurt.
The emissions scandal is a major legal battle for volkswagen worldwide. In germany, the first model lawsuit has now ended in a settlement. Around 260,000 diesel customers receive between 1,350 and 6,257 euros, depending on the model and age of their car.