Verdict in the emissions scandal: Little hope of compensation

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) in Karlsruhe made it clear that, according to the Senate’s initial considerations, leasing should be valued differently than buying a car with the manipulated exhaust gas aftertreatment. By opting for leasing, you acquire the right to drive the car for a certain period of time. According to the judges, the plaintiff was able to exercise precisely this right without restriction. The company, the lawsuit is aimed directly against Audi, can therefore presumably not be obliged to reimburse the leasing installments. The BGH wants to announce the final judgment on September 16, 2021.

A decision of principle is imminent, as a BGH spokesman explained. The court had dealt with this particular question for the first time. According to Volkswagen, the outcome is relevant to a four-digit number of proceedings. (Az. VII ZR 192/20). A man from the Ostalb district had complained. In 2009 he leased an Audi with the EA189 diesel engine for four years. After the lease expired, he bought the car. He not only wants the money back for the installments, but also the purchase price minus any depreciation.

The BGH did not give the man high hopes on this point either. Whether Audi, as a Volkswagen group brand, had any knowledge of the fraud at all, had not been adequately explained in the lower court. Audi’s lawyers were pleased with the BGH statements. On the one hand, Audi did not know anything about the manipulated engines. On the other hand, claims for reimbursement of leasing installments are absurd.

“If I had suspected that the engine had been tampered with, I would not have leased or bought the car at the time,” said the 45-year-old plaintiff after the hearing. He hoped not to go away empty-handed, at least when it came to the purchase price. “We’re not giving up yet,” said his lawyer Monika Buchholz-Duffner. She had vehemently doubted that Audi knew nothing about the illegal defeat device. The lower court had awarded the plaintiff damages for the purchase, but also denied a reimbursement of leasing installments.

In their first and most important verdict on the emissions scandal, the BGH judges decided in May 2020 that Volkswagen had systematically deceived its customers: If they had known that diesel cars with the EA189 engine emitted far more pollutants than could be measured on the test bench, they would have probably decided on a different vehicle. In most cases, claimants therefore have the right to return their car. However, you do not get all of the money back, you have to credit the usage.

How it behaves with corporate brands like Audi has not yet been fundamentally clarified. The BGH has already taken a position on numerous other special constellations in connection with the scandal, for example on the subject of compensation for car sales, retroactive interest on the purchase price or the statute of limitations.


Verdict in the emissions scandal: Little hope of compensation

Nina Zatulini

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