Fascinating legal developments in Germany regarding the diesel emission claims scandal

Source: FD (Dutch Financial Times)

Photo by Alfonso Escalante on Pexels.com

Germany has a large number of legal claims to do with the diesel emission claims scandal. In May 2020, Germany’s highest civil court ruled that buyers were entitled to reimbursement of the purchase price, minus a deduction for use of the car.

Some consumers felt that this did not go far enough and wanted full compensation with interest. One of these consumers is a woman who purchased a Seat Ibiza for €21,000. She filed a case with the court in Erfurt.

Judge Martin Borowsky decided to ask the EU’s Court of Justice for advice. Would full compensation be in line with EU legislation? He also wants the EU court to assess the independence of German courts (because of the links between the Ministries of Justice of the various German states and their courts).

The EU court has not started to look into the matter yet.

However, the claimant’s car dealership has meanwhile decided to refund the woman’s purchase price, with interest, and is also willing to pay her court fees. The woman accepted this reimbursement with interest. The Seat dealer hoped that this meant that the legal proceedings could be closed.

However, Judge Borowsky has now ruled that the case cannot be closed. The claimant did accept the dealer’s refund, but also decided to proceed with the case. The judge feels that the dealership is crossing the line towards rights abuse and that there are still legal questions needing to be ruled on.

Previously, German lawyers had already said that Volkswagen, Seat’s parent company, appears to be doing what it can to stop the matter from ending up in the EU Court of Justice. One of Volkswagen’s approaches is to compensate complainants generously.

In 2019, Volkswagen tried to have Judge Borowsky removed from the matter because it considered the judge prejudiced.

It almost reads like a Grisham novel.