Newsletter for all participants.
Spanish court orders VW to pay damages of € 3,000 per car
A Madrid court has found Volkswagen guilty of the use of manipulated software, or “cheating software”. In proceedings brought by a Spanish consumer association against Volkswagen on behalf of 5,400 affiliated consumers, the judge awarded damages totalling € 16.3million for unfair commercial practices, amounting to an average of € 3,000 per consumer. The judge used a pragmatic method to determine this amount; half to compensate for the depreciation of the affected cars and the inconvenience of use of having to have the cars repaired, and the other half for “moral damage” as breach of confidence due to the advertised “green” image of these cars, the environmental damages and the impact on society.
Read the verdict of the Spanish court (in Spanish)
Over one-hundred-million euro fine for Volkswagen for not meeting emissions standards.
The Volkswagen Group has not achieved the 2020 target for CO2 emissions as set by the European Union. For Volkswagen, the standard was about 99 grams per kilometre per car sold. The manufacturer is now facing a fine of at least € 100million.
Every year, the EU sets increasingly stricter standards for the average emissions of all cars produced by a car manufacturer. The aim is to force manufacturers to produce cars that pollute less and to stimulate the transition to building electric vehicles.
Volkswagen is not the only car manufacturer that has not achieved the CO2 reduction target; the European Commission will soon publish the figures for all manufacturers and the extent of potential fines.
Case Management Hearing before the Amsterdam District Court
After the start of the proceedings against Volkswagen and related parties such as Audi, Seat, Skoda, Porsche, Robert Bosch, importer(s) and dealers in the Netherlands and abroad, the first case management hearing in the Dutch proceedings was held on January 18, 2021 before the Amsterdam District Court.
The objective of this hearing was to exchange views from all parties involved about the desired sequence of subjects to be addressed in the initial phases of the WAMCA procedure we have started.
This includes subjects such as the admissibility of the Foundation, the appointment of an Exclusive Representative Party – which the Foundation has opted for – as well as determination whether the Dutch court has jurisdiction with regard to the claims brought and, if so, which (national) law would apply. The court has indicated that a decision on the order of handling of the above points can be expected on March 3.
The session took more than four hours during which – unsurprisingly – positions were taken on both sides that were diametrically opposed.
We expect the Foundation to be declared admissible because it meets the requirements outlined in the Dutch Claim Code 2019. We also expect to be appointed as the Exclusive Representative Party, acting on behalf of the group of injured parties as described in the writ of summons of March 13, 2020.
Judgment of the Court of Justice
On December 17, the European Court of Justice ruled that the fraudulent (“cheating”) software installed by Volkswagen in cars belonging to the Volkswagen Group is prohibited and in violation of European laws and regulations.
The decision of the European Court of Justice follows in response to so called prejudicial questions put by a French judge as part of a criminal investigation against Volkswagen. The Court of Justice rejected Volkswagen’s defence that the software is necessary to protect the engine. The Court in doing so, largely followed the advice of Advocate General Sharpston who outlined in her earlier Opinion, that the definition of the term ‘defeat device’ must be interpreted broadly, and that there are only limited possibilities for successfully invoking the exceptions provided for by law.
This important judgment of the Court of Justice, binding for all Member States of Europe, establishes at the highest level, that the use of fraudulent software is illegal. This decision provides further ammunition for the cases that the Foundation has brought against Volkswagen when it comes to establishing liability and enforcing damages.
Read the press release of the Court of Justice
Read the full judgment (in French) of the Court of Justice
Newsletter for all participants.
Diesel Emissions Justice Foundation (DEJF) started legal proceedings in The Netherlands against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (‘FCA’), and related parties, for damages resulting from the use of manipulation software to falsify emissions testing, for their role in what is commonly referred to as Dieselgate. The action is filed under the Dutch Act on Collective Damages Claims (Wet Afwikkeling Massaschade in Collectieve Actie), known as WAMCA.
The DEJF has requested the Amsterdam district court to be appointed as the Lead Plaintiff in order to lead the proceedings against FCA et al. on behalf of all affected Dutch and European parties, as described in the writ of summons. This writ (in Dutch) can be accessed on the Foundation’s website: https://www.emissionsjustice.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Geanonimiseerde-dagvaarding-DEJF74.pdf
The Diesel Emissions Justice Foundation is a Dutch non-profit organisation. Its mission is to protect the interests of drivers impacted by the Dieselgate scandal and, by doing so, to facilitate access to justice for affected car owners. This new litigation is the third collective initiative by the DEJF to seek compensation for aggrieved consumers, following the Volkswagen litigation that the Foundation initiated in March 2020, and the Daimler litigation brought in June 2020.
DEJF expands remit and begins accepting European claims against Mercedes.
Milieudefensie supports the initiative of the Diesel Emissions Justice Foundation against the polluting car industry:
“With the diesel scandal, the car industry has seriously damaged our health and the environment. As a result of the diesel scandal, the negative health consequences of the air pollution will only increase, while the extra polluting cars will continue to drive. The current political and legal system has not sufficiently protected the population against the economic interests of the profit-driven industry. That is why Milieudefensie supports the legal actions of the Diesel Emissions Justice Foundation. Milieudefensie wants a fund to improve the environment and make traffic more sustainable. That is fair and badly needed after the damage the industry has caused…”
Diesel Emissions Justice Foundation (DEJF) publishes a statement reacting to the decision of the Supreme Court of Germany (BGH) against Volkswagen AG. Read the full statement.
DEJF Managing Director, Femke Hendriks, along with Board member, Maria José Azar-Baud, and Supervisory Board member, George Tsetsekos, host a webinar for current and prospective claimants across Europe. In addition to providing an overview of the DEJF’s progress to date, they also answered live questions from attendees. The original video can be seen here.
DEJF invites all of its current and prospective claimants to attend its Inaugural Webinar on 29 April. The webinar will be conducted in English. Registration is closed.
The DEJF releases a statement in response to the England and Wales High Court Decision on VW. Read the press statement.
Dutch Financieele Dagblad (FD) publishes article on start of litigation of DEJF against Volkswagen AG in The Netherlands, stating: “The German car giant has been summoned before Amsterdam Court by a Dutch foundation (DEJF) that claims to represent millions of European buyers of affected vehicles. Through the Dutch court, the organization wants to claim billions in damages.” To read the full press release issued by the DEJF, click here.
DEJF releases statement in response to VW deal in Germany, applauding resolution achieved by consumer organization VZBV. However, DEJF highlights that VW is only offering compensation for German residents, while the remaining 96% of duped car owners throughout Europe are left out. DEJF encourages VW to work with them to reach an acceptable solution for all affected customers. Read the statement here.
France Nature Environnement, the largest French federation of associations for the protection of nature and the environment, supports the Diesel Emissions Justice Foundation. Anne Lassman-Trappier commented,
“For France Nature Environnement, the implementation of laws and norms related to engine emissions and the sanctions thereof must take into account the actual emissions. Until then, the DEJF intends to hold responsible the manufacturers who have manipulated and taken advantage while endangering public health.”
DEJF expands to include France. Read the press release.
DEJF sends formal letter to VW informing them of the initiative and demanding compensation for impacted car owners and lessees. Letter encourages VW to enter into a constructive dialogue with DEJF to reach a solution for its constituents or face litigation across Europe.
DEJF expands its activity to include Belgium. Read the press release.
Der Spiegel reports that the German transport authority is investigating software used in smaller diesel engines installed in models, such as the Mercedes A and B-Class.
German transport authority orders Mercedes to recall certain Mercedes van models.
The Stuttgart Prosecutor’s Office fines Mercedes €870m for a negligent violation of the duty of supervision in a department of Mercedes dealing with vehicle certification in the period from 2008, resulting in regulatory approvals being granted for diesel vehicles whose NOx emissions did not meet regulatory requirements. Mercedes does not contest the fine.
DEJF launches in the Netherlands and begins to register potential claimants. Read the press release.
Corpocon, the first EU firm to start legal mass claims against Volkswagen concerning Dieselgate, joins Stichting Diesel Emissions Justice (DEJF). Having signed its first clients in 2015, Corpocon CEO, Orlando Kadir, said:
“I believe the experienced Board, impressive Supervisory Board and committed budgets available to Stichting Diesel Emissions Justice will allow it to litigate effectively against Volkswagen and achieve a justified compensation for the 8.5 million duped European Volkswagen Group car owners. For this reason, Corpocon is pleased to bring its thousands of claimants and join forces with Stichting Diesel Emissions Justice, confident we will accomplish far more together and ultimately hold Volkswagen accountable for its actions.”
After years of preparation, Diesel Emissions Justice Stichting is established under Dutch law. This non-profit foundation is a necessary step in order to formally bring collective tort proceedings against Volkswagen and seek to obtain fair and adequate damages for consumers across the continent of Europe.
German transport authority orders Mercedes to recall certain models which were found to contain an inadmissible switch-off device and/or impermissible reduction in the effectiveness of the emissions control system. [LINK] Mercedes reported that the criticised functionality was contained in a variety of models and that it would review the issue. In September 2019, the German transport authority extended the recall [LINK].
German transport authority orders Mercedes to recall 774,000 vehicles across Europe because they were fitted with inadmissible defeat devices.
Mercedes announces that it will undertake “voluntary service action” to more than three million diesel vehicles in Europe to improve the NOx emissions of the vehicles.
Mercedes institutes a voluntary recall of “compact class cars” with “one engine version”, including Mercedes V-Class and other models.