The Volkswagen Group has been dealt a severe setback in its efforts to put a close to the diesel emissions scandal following a decision by Germany’s top court that may force it to compensate thousands of European customers.
In a surprise ruling handed down on Friday, Germany’s Federal Court of Justice rebuked VW Group arguments that the cheat software it fitted to various diesel models was legal under European Union law, and therefore resolved it of any responsibility to compensate customers.
The court, acting on a case originally set to be heard on February 27, 2019, but since withdrawn at the behest of the plaintiff, brought down its decision, classifying the cheat software as a “material defect”.
In a statement, the court said the Volkswagen Group was obliged to provide customers with a car free from defects.
The decision is thought to open new legal avenues to customers seeking to claim compensation on the basis that the car they were sold was not representative of that advertised. In certain cases, it may even force the Volkswagen Group to provide customers with a brand new car, even if the car in question has been superseded by a new model.