According to an opinion of the EU Advocate General, buyers of a Volkswagen with manipulated exhaust gas software are entitled to sue for damages in the country where they bought the car. The attorney general ruled on Thursday (2. April 2020) on 574 VW customers in Austria whose class action lawsuit is pending before the Klagenfurt regional court.
Who is competent?
Normally, a lawsuit had to be filed in the country where the defendant is domiciled or resident. Therefore, the Austrian court had asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) whether it is competent at all. However, the Advocate General, whose opinion is an essential basis for the later ECJ decision, sees an exception in the present case.
There were also alternative jurisdictions, explained the Advocate General. In the case of disputes about tort or an act that is equivalent to a tort, the plaintiff has the possibility to sue in the court of the place where the damage occurred or threatens to occur.
damage done in austria
The event that caused the damage occurred in Germany because the manipulated software was installed in the cars there. For the 574 VW customers who have assigned their rights to the Austrian Association for Consumer Information, the damage occurred in Austria because they had bought the vehicles with the defeat devices there.
Weighing up various provisions, the Advocate General concluded that the purchasers could very well sue for their damages in an Austrian court. Volkswagen could also have easily foreseen that its vehicles would be sold in Austria and that the purchasers could bring civil liability actions against the group there.