German court ruling clears way to settle VW diesel cases

The decision affects some 60,000 individual claims brought by car owners in Germany.
A Volkswagen badge

A German court has ruled that Volkswagen must buy back diesel cars from their owners which were equipped with software that evaded emissions testing.

But consumers must accept the current value of the car based on the mileage they drove since buying it, not the purchase price.

Volkswagen said the decision would clear the way for settlement of remaining consumer claims in Germany.

The decision affects some 60,000 individual claims brought by car owners there; around 262,000 others have already been covered by an 830 million euro (£743 million) class-action settlement.

“For the majority of the 60,000 pending cases, this ruling provides clarity,” the company said in a statement.

“Volkswagen is now seeking to bring these proceedings to a prompt conclusion in agreement with the plaintiffs.

“We will therefore approach the plaintiffs with the adequate settlement proposals.

“The aim is to relieve the burden on the judiciary as quickly as possible.”

The case that was decided on Monday involved a plaintiff who bought a Volkswagen Sharan model in 2014 that was equipped with the software that turned off emissions controls during testing.

He had sought the full purchase price but the court ruled he must accept less due to depreciation related to the distance he drove.

The individual case is expected to serve as a guideline for others.

Volkswagen was caught cheating by US authorities in September 2015 and has since paid more than 33 billion euros (£28.5 billion) in fines and settlements worldwide.

Two executives went to prison in the United States and more are facing criminal proceedings and investigations in Germany.

Volkswagen still faces lawsuits from investors.