Emission scandal: Class action by foreign diesel owners allowed

Even seven years after it was revealed, Volkswagen’s emission fraud has still not been completely legally remedied. The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) currently had to clarify the question of whether deceived owners of diesel vehicles may transfer their claims to a service provider. Unlike the courts in Braunschweig earlier, in the model case with a Swiss customer, BGH decided that the service provider Myright met all the requirements to ultimately recover the claims through class actions. German Financialright GmbH, which is behind Myright, does not have to prove any special expertise in Swiss law. This means that the content of the individual claims can now be checked. (Sheet number VIa ZR 418/21)

Myright announces that even customers without legal expenses insurance do not bear any cost risk. In case of success, a commission is paid. According to Volkswagen, several class actions are pending for a total of about 36,000 clients in German courts. These include two lawsuits for more than 2,000 Swiss and about 6,000 Slovenian customers. During the hearing, the chairwoman Eva Menges surprisingly also commented on other formal obstacles that previously prevented class actions from German victims from being brought to court. She had indicated that her Senate also sees no problem with Myright on these points. However, this aspect was not discussed when the verdict was announced. It remains to be seen whether he will participate in the full written verdict, which is expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Stefan Zimmermann from Myright has already talked about a “milestone for consumer protection”. In any case, for Switzerland and Slovenia, the business model has been confirmed to the extent that “we can finally discuss with Volkswagen how much compensation the customer is actually entitled to.” In the case of German customers, everything now depends on the exact wording of the judgment. Volkswagen stated that in the specific case it was expected “that the lawsuit would be dismissed at a later date. Because according to the Swiss law applicable to the case, the claimed claims do not exist.” To date, no Swiss court has granted a claim for damages against Volkswagen.

The class action lawsuit should not be confused with the already completed lawsuit against Volkswagen by the Consumer Advice Center. This procedure had ended with a settlement that benefited more than 245,000 diesel owners. Tens of thousands of individual plaintiffs also received damages from the group. They had all bought a diesel with the EA189 engine, which had been modified in such a way that the emission limits were only met in official tests.

In a second case, the judges in Karlsruhe also commented on so-called residual damage to imported cars. (File number VIa ZR 680/21) Affected persons who have not brought damages in good time may be entitled to this. According to the first BGH judgments, however, the conditions for this are only given for new cars, not for cars bought used. This time it was a new vehicle imported from another EU country. They are often cheaper because they were not manufactured for the German market.

In these cases, the civil judges judged that residual damages could be considered. The condition, however, is that neither the dealer in Germany nor the intermediary abroad bought the car from Volkswagen, regardless of the order, at his own expense and risk. Stuttgart’s Higher Regional Court had not examined this in the specific case. This must now be compensated.

Mid-September 2015: US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accuses Volkswagen Group of equipping diesel cars built between 2009 and 2015 with software that cheated US environmental testing tests. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) came to similar results. Both authorities send complaints to VW. (Image: EPA Headquarters in Washington DC)
(Image: EPA


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