Dieselgate: finally Belgian class action against VW on trial

Nine years after the Dieselgate scandal ‘exploded’, Volkswagen and its Belgian importer D’Ieteren Auto are facing trial in Brussels in a class action initiated by consumer organization Test Aankoop/Test Achat (TA).

According to TA, several trials abroad have proved enough that Volkswagen has used cheating software in its cars. D’Ieteren itself admitted 300 000 vehicles by the brands Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, and Skoda in Belgium are affected.

TA wants Volkswagen to refund everyone and let them keep the car anyway. But Volkswagen’s lawyers argue no damage was done to the vehicles and no value loss was caused by the software that only was effective in lab tests.

Started in 2016

In 2016, the consumer organization started a class action against Volkswagen and D’Ieteren due to the revelations in ‘Dieselgate’, where VW admitted using software in its cars (11 million in total), capable of misleading official anti-pollution control mechanisms.

In December 2017, a Brussels civilian court decreed the class action demand against Volkswagen and Volkswagen importer D’Ieteren, emitted by Test Aankoop/Test Achats, receivable. Finally, the trial has started.

European Court of Justice

On top of Volkswagen being convicted by courts in the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, and Italy, the highest court in Europe also issued judgments in this case.

“The European Court of Justice also issued two judgments, the last in July 2022, in which not only the original software but also the update that was carried out later were prohibited cheating devices, and that vehicles equipped with it were by definition not in conformity with the purchase agreement,” TA argued in court.

Nothing final

But the lawyers of the opposite party waive these arguments saying that non of the verdicts issued abroad are final yet, and the European Court of Justice didn’t say the software has damaged the cars.

And as the news of Dieselgate broke in 2015, people who bought a Volkswagen later should have been aware of the ‘risks’ and have no right to any claim.

The cars only showed ‘better’ emission values in the lab testing environment, and the cheating software wasn’t active while on the road. The vehicles didn’t pollute more than the cars of the competition.

The defense stated that it didn’t impact the cars’ safety or driving capabilities, nor the technical inspection. The discussion is thus only between the regulatory authorities and the car manufacturer, as no clients were harmed.

To be continued in court next week.



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