German court opens proceedings in Volkswagen diesel emissions lawsuit

30 September 2019, 15:38

The lawsuit against Volkswagen has been brought in a German court
The lawsuit against Volkswagen has been brought in a German court. Picture: PA

By Megan White

A court has opened a class action suit against Volkswagen in which almost half-a-million customers aim to establish the right to compensation over the diesel emissions scandal.

The case, brought by the Federation of German Consumer Organisations in Germany, was prompted by the scandal over Volkswagen's use of software to turn emissions controls off when vehicles were not being tested, which was discovered in 2015.

It uses new rules enacted last year which could enable 470,000 car owners to claim compensation in separate proceedings.

The Braunschweig state court declared the suit admissible as proceedings opened, news agency dpa reported, but suggested that the plaintiffs have plenty of work to do to prove their case.

The proceedings in Braunschweig, which encompass cars made by the Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda brands fitted with EA 189 diesel engines that were bought after November 1 2008 and later affected by a recall, are meant to establish only whether the company acted illegally.

Presiding Judge Michael Neef suggested that the two sides could consider a settlement, saying it is “very difficult, but possible,” while Volkswagen has said it is hard to imagine in this case.

Mr Neef said his court would have to consider whether vehicle owners suffered damage from the emissions-cheating software itself or from bans subsequently imposed on driving older diesel cars in some areas.

The cars continued in most cases to be used, he noted.

In a separate case, prosecutors last week announced charges of market manipulation against Volkswagen chief executive Herbert Diess and board chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch, as well as former chief executive Martin Winterkorn, arguing that they deliberately informed markets too late about the huge costs to the company that would result from the scandal.

Volkswagen rejects the allegations and is backing Mr Diess and Mr Poetsch.

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

US Ukraine Aid

US announces new military aid and drones for Ukraine

Prime minister of Finland Sanna Marin holds a press conference in Helsinki on Friday

Finnish PM takes drugs test ‘for own legal protection’ after video leak

Sanna Marin said she has taken a drug test

Finnish PM takes drug test as new video of her partying emerges

A woman walks along the edge of a crater from a rocket strike in Druzhkivka, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine

Two Russian villages evacuated after fire at munitions depot near Ukraine border

A firefighting airplane over a wildfire near Alcublas in eastern Spain

More than 30 aircraft deployed to help tackle major wildfire in Spain

Alamy/Handout

Isis 'Beatle' from London jailed for life in US for role in hostage taking and beheading plot

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, left, speaks during a news conference after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, at the Chancellery in Berlin

Berlin police investigate Palestinian president’s Holocaust comments

Umar Patek, an Indonesian militant charged in the 2002 Bali terrorist attacks, left, sits with his lawyer during his trial in Jakarta, Indonesia

Reduction in Bali bombmaker’s sentence will cause distress, says Australian PM

Wreckage of a plane that collided with another plane in California

Two dead after plane collision in California

Whitey Bulger

Three men charged over prison death of Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger

Brazil Elections

Brazil’s Bolsonaro grabs at heckler and tries to take phone

Italy Museum Climate Protest

Climate protesters target the Vatican’s Laocoon statue

R Kelly

Woman tells court of frequent sex with R Kelly before she was 18

Sir Salman Rushdie incident

Judge denies bail for man accused of attacking Sir Salman Rushdie

Ms Marin said she is a normal 36-year-old who spends time with her friends

Finnish PM denies drug taking after footage of 36-year-old dancing at 'wild' party emerges

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks after a meeting with the Serbian president and Kosovo's prime minister in Brussels on Thursday

EU-mediated Serbia-Kosovo meeting ends without agreement