PRAGUE (Reuters) – A Prague district court has ruled that a number of Czech owners of Skoda and Volkswagen cars qualify for 533 million crowns (£18.53 million) in compensation linked to VW’s diesel emissions scandal, the ruling seen by Reuters said.
The suit was filed by Safe Diesel on behalf of 2,435 people, the ruling, which was shown to Reuters by Safe Diesel, said. Safe Diesel was set up to take on the case for the claimants.
The decision, ordering Volkswagen to pay the full amount, is open to appeal but only on procedural grounds.
Volkswagen had no immediate comment.
The Prague district court spokesman was also not immediately available to comment.
“It is a breakthrough in the European branch of the affair,” Safe Diesel’s lawyer Frantisek Honsa said in a company statement. “We managed to push through the same compensation as in the United States.”
Volkswagen admitted in September 2015 that it had cheated U.S. diesel emissions tests. The company has paid out more than 27 billion euros (£24 billion) in penalties for using illegal software to disguise excessive levels of pollution from its diesel cars, triggering a global regulatory clampdown.
The Prague ruling, dated March 22 but not previously released, said the compensation demand was upheld without a court hearing because Skoda parent Volkswagen failed to deliver any objections to the demands by a deadline set by the court.
Skoda Auto was also part of the suit although it did provide its position and that part of the case has not been ruled upon, the ruling said.
Officials at Skoda Auto, the Czech brand of VW, did not respond to a request for comment.
Safe Diesel said that it has been collecting demands from more owners of the affected cars. The ruling only covered the initial 2,435 claimants, but the firm said more than 7,000 people have made claims so far.
Safe Diesel said there were 165,000 cars affected by the emissions scandal in the Czech Republic.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Jan Harvey and Jane Merriman)