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German court rules against Volkswagen in 'Dieselgate' compensation scandal

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n this Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 file photo an attendee waits for the start of a news conference at the Volkswagen booth at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
n this Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 file photo an attendee waits for the start of a news conference at the Volkswagen booth at the Los Angeles Auto Show.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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Germany's highest court has ruled against Volkswagen in a landmark case connected to the diesel emissions scandal and paving the way for several thousand similar claims from customers.

Germany's Federal Court (BGH) passed a binding ruling on Monday on the case of Herbert Gilbert, who demanded to be reimbursed for the full purchase price of his car. According to the ruling, he is entitled to a partial reimbursement upon returning the vehicle to VW.

The claim related to the so-called 'Diesel-gate' scandal, under which the German carmaker admitted manipulating vehicles in order to fool emissions tests.

A VW spokesperson stated that the company will now approach other customers who had made claims and offer them a one-time reimbursement if they return their car. In a statement sent to Euronews, VW spokesperson Nicolai Laude said the size of that reimbursement will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

She also said the ruling is no cause for new claims, adding that there are still unanswered questions, such as a statute of limitations, and whether customers who have bought their car after September 2015 are allowed to make claims, as well.

At a press conference, Gilbert said this is "a great day and a great ruling, which I had anticipated. This ruling will help thousands of other plaintiffs who have been stuck in their proceedings to finally reach a conclusion."

The judgment could pave the way for several thousand ongoing claims against VW. At least 11 million cars were involved in the scandal, eight million of them in Europe.

VW will likely be obligated to pay compensation

Judges had already ruled that VW will be obligated to pay compensation, but that customers would not receive the entire purchase price of their vehicle. Instead, they would receive a so-called "usage compensation" for the kilometres driven.

But Gilbert instead made a compensation claim for the entire purchase price of €31,500 for his VW Sharan.

A higher regional court in Coblenz had ruled that Gilbert was owed €25,600 plus interest upon returning his car. Both parties had appealed against this judgment.

VW argues that no damage had been caused to the customer by installing the exhaust software, as the vehicle could be used at any time and the software's installation had not caused any loss of value or other defects.

Euronews has reached out to VW for comment on the ruling.