Germany has approved draft legislation to allow US-style class action lawsuits in the country that should give consumers the power to seek compensation following Volkswagen’s diesel emission scandal.
The new law still needs to be approved by parliament, but German justice minister Katarina Barley expects it to come into force on 1 November. This would be just ahead of the year-end statute of limitation for claims against VW related to ‘dieselgate’.
“There are estimates that some two million diesel owners could benefit from this,” Ms Barley said, according to AFP.
VW agreed to pay $10bn in buyback and compensation to more than 450,00 US car owners after it cheated diesel emission tests. But consumers in Europe were unable to claim such compensation because of a lack of opportunity for class actions or collective redress. So Germany and the EC have taken action.
According to AFP, the German class action system has several safeguards to prevent unfair litigation.
The draft law says that claims can only be filed by established consumer protection groups representing a minimum of 50 plaintiffs. Judges will rule on whether damages should be awarded, without setting the figure. Each plaintiff would then have to agree compensation with the defendant.