On 14 July 2021, the Amsterdam District Court rendered judgment in Car Claim’s claim against Volkswagen et al., known popularly as ‘Dieselgate’. In this class action, Car Claim represents the interests of car owners of the brands Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat that were put on the market between 2008 and September 2015 and which were fitted with emissions-cheating software.
Volkswagen et al. acknowledge that the original software featured various modes that are prohibited under the Emission Regulation. The District Court went on to answer the question of whether this also means that Volkswagen et al. acted unlawfully towards the car owners and whether the violated standard serves to protect the financial interests of the Car Owners.
The District Court ruled that the car manufacturers did indeed act unlawfully because they deliberately misled the regulator and the buyers of the cars by fitting the cars with cheating software, which is contrary to what is generally accepted according to unwritten law. The District Court issued a declaratory judgment stating that the car dealers sold cars that did not meet the buyers’ reasonable expectations as a result of the cheating software; the so-called non-conformity. After all, the buyer may expect the car to comply with the applicable regulations upon delivery. For that reason alone, a car that does not comply with said regulations is worth less than the purchase price, which is why the buyers are entitled to a price reduction from the car dealers. The importance of a simple and uniform settlement of damage, as intended by a class action, requires the District Court to determine what price reduction can be claimed. Because the defect is the same for each case, that amount may be the same for each car owner. The District Court set the price reduction for consumers who purchased a car from the car dealers involved in these proceedings at €3,000 for a new car and €1,500 for a second-hand car. Volkswagen et al. lodged an appeal against this District Court judgment.